Skip to main content

Full text of "Vasari on technique; being the introduction to the three arts of design, architecture, sculpture and painting, prefixed to the Lives of the most excellent painters, sculptors and architects"

See other formats




Mr. Eugene Montillon 


Cornell University Library 
N 7420.V44 

Vasari on technique; being the Introducti 

3 1924 020 624 742 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 


All rights reserved 

















^ ^ 5 = 







U ; 





























































































U (ii R « 

M L, ■ - 4J 

u zi P^ :a 
■5 <*- I- 1> 

H ~ 

e'O s I 

^ =. a -S 

s S S 3 

a s g o 

< :' o -- 














Glasgow: printed at the university press 
by robert maclehose and co. ltd. 



OBIIT APRIL 1 8, 1907 


The title page indicates the general responsibility for the 
different parts of the work now offered to the reader. It 
should be said however that the editor has revised the 
translation especially in those portions which deal with 
technical matters, while the translator has contributed to 
the matter incorporated in the Notes. The translation was 
in great part written during a sojourn near Florence, and 
opportunity was taken to elucidate some of the author's 
expressions by conversation with Italian artificers and 
with scholars conversant with the Tuscan idiom. 

The text has been translated without omissions, and 
the rendering has been made as literal as is consistent 
with clearness and with a reasonable regard for the English 
tongue. In the two editions issued in Vasari's lifetime 
the chapters are numbered continuously from one to thirty- 
five through the three divisions of the work, but in more 
modern editions each division has its chapters separately 
numbered. The latter arrangement has been followed, 
but the continuous numbers of the chapters have been 
added in brackets. With the view of assisting the reader 
the text has also been broken up into numbered sections, 
each with its heading, though there is no arrangement of 
the kind in the original. 

The shorter notes at the foot of the pages are intended 
to explain the author's meaning, which is not always very 
clear, and to help to identify and localize buildings and 
objects mentioned in the text. A certain number of the 
notes, the longer of which have been placed at the ends 


of the three divisions, afford an opportunity for discussing 
more general questions of historical or aesthetic interest 
raised by Vasari. 

A number of plates and figures in the text have been 
added, some of which are illustrative of Vasari 's descrip- 
tions, while others give representations of unpublished 
objects, and examples of the different kinds of artistic 
work included in the scope of the treatise. Our acknow- 
ledgements for permission to reproduce are due to the 
authorities of the Print Room, British Museum, and 
the National Art Library; to Signor Giacomo Brogi at 
Florence; and to others to whom we have expressed our 
thanks in the text. 

Vasari's unit of measurement is the 'braccio,' and this 
term has been retained in place of the more familiar 
English equivalent ' cubit.' Vasari's braccio seems to be 
equal to about twenty-three inches or fifty-eight centi- 
metres. This equation is given by Aurelio Gotti, and 
agrees with various dimensions Vasari ascribes to monu- 
ments that can now be measured. A smaller unit is the 
' palmo,' and this is not, as might be supposed, the breadth 
of a hand, but what we should rather call a 'span,' that 
is the space that can be covered by a hand trying to stretch 
an octave, and may be reckoned at about nine inches. 

In the matter of proper names, Vasari's own forms 
have in most cases been followed in the text, but not 
necessarily in the commentary. 

There are some passages in which we suspect that the 
printed text does not exactly correspond with what Vasari 
originally wrote (see Index s.v. ' Text '), but no help is to 
be obtained here from any known MS. sources. Vasari 
gives us to understand that the original edition of the Lives 
was printed, not from his own autograph, but from a 
transcript made for him by a monastic calligraphist, placed 
at his disposal by a friendly abbot who also corrected to 
some extent the text. Neither this transcript, nor any 
MS. of the additions made for the second edition of the 
work, is known to exist, and textual criticism has to be 


confined to a comparison of the printed texts of the two 
editions published in Vasari's own lifetime. 

The character of the subject matter and the multiplicity 
of the processes and materials passed in review have 
rendered it needful to invoke the aid of many Italian 
scholars and experts in historical and technical matters, 
who have met our applications with a courteous readiness 
to help for which we desire to express our sincere grati- 
tude. Our obligations to each of these are expressed in 
the notes, but we cannot close this preface without a special 
word of thanks to Signor Agnoletti, of the University 
of Glasgow, and to the Rev. Don Vittorio Rossi, Priore 
of Settignano. Our acknowledgements are also due to 
Mr G. K. Fortescue, Keeper of Printed Books at the 
British Museum; Mr G. H. Palmer, of the National 
Art Library; Comm. Conte D. Gnoli, Biblioteca 
Vittorio Emanuele, Rome; Comm. Dottore Guido Biagi, 
Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence; Dr Thomas 
Ashby, Director of the British School at Rome; and Mr 
John Kinross, R.S.A. To many artists and connoisseurs 
in this country whom we have consulted on technical 
points we are indebted for information not easily to be 
found in books, and to Mr W. Brindley a special tribute 
is due for the kindness with which he has opened to us 
his unique stores of practical knowledge of stones and 



Prefatory Note, - vii 

Table of Contents, - xi 

List of Illustrations, - xxi 

Introductory Essay, i 


Chapter I. 

Of the different kinds of Stone which are used by Architects 
for ornamental details, and in Sculpture for Statues ; that is, 
Of Porphyry, Serpentine, Cipollaccio, Breccia, Granites, Paragon 
or Test-stone, Transparent Marbles, White Marbles and 
Veined Marbles, CipoUini, Saligni, Campanini, Travertine, Slate, 
Peperigno, Ischia Stone, Pietra Serena and Pietra Forte, 25 

§ I. The Author's object in the Discussion of Architecture (25). 
%2. Of the working of hard stones, and first of Porphyry (26). 
%l. Of Serpentine (35). § 4. Of Cipollaccio (36). § 5. Of 
Breccia {'■ Mischio,' Conglomerate) (37). §6. Of Granite (39). 
§7. Of Paragon [Touchstone) {i,'2). §8. Of Transparent Marbles 
for filling window openings iji^'^. §9. Of Statuary Marbles {i^'^. 
§ ID. OfCipollino Marble (49). §11. Of White Pisan Marble (50). 
§ 12. Of Travertine (51). § 13. Of Slates (54). § 14. Of 
Peperino (55). § 15. Of the Stone from Istria (56). § 16. Of 
Pietra Serena (57). %\']. Of Pietra Forte (60). § 18. Con- 
clusion of Chapter (61). 




Chapter II. 

The Description of squared Ashlar-work (lavoro di quadro) and 

of carved Ashlar-work (lavoro di quadro intagliato), 63 

§ 19. The work of the Mason (63). 

Chapter III. 

Concerning the five Orders of Architecture, Rustic, Doric, 
Ionic, Corinthian, Composite, and also German Work, 65 

<^ 20. Rusticated masonry and ihe Tuscan Order {6^). §21. The 
Doric Order (68). § 22. A constructive device to avoid charging 
architraves (72). § 23. The proportions and parts of the Doric 
Order (75). § 34. The Ionic Order (78). § 25. The Corinthian 
Order (79). § 26. The Composite Order (80). § 27. Of Terminal 
figures (82). § 28. German Work {the Gothic Style) (83). 

Chapter IV. 

On forming Vaults in Concrete, to be impressed with Enrich- 
ment : when the Centerings are to be removed, and how to mix 
the Plaster, 85 

§ 29. The Construction of enriched Stucco Vaults (85). 
§ 30. Stucco made with Marble Dust (86). 

Chapter V. 

How Rustic Fountains are made with Stalactites and Incrusta- 
tions from water, and how Cockle Shells and Conglomerations 
of vitrified stone are built into the Stucco, 87 

§ 31. Grottoes and Fountains of ^ Rocaille' work (87). 

Chapter VI. 

On the manner of making Pavements of Tesselated Work, 91 

§ 32. Mosaic pavements (91). § 33. Pictorial Mosaics for 
Walls, etc. (93). 

Chapter VII. 

How one is to recognize if a Building have good Proportions, 

and of what Members it should generally be composed, - 95 

§ 34. The Principles of Planning and Design (95). § 35. An 
Ideal Palace (96). 



Notes on 'Introduction' to Architecture, 99 

Porphyry and Porphyry Quarries, - loi 

The Sassi, della Valle, and other Collections of 

Antiques of the Early Part of the Sixteenth Century, 102 

The Porphyry Tazza of the Sala Rotonda of the 

Vatican, - 108 

Francesco Del Tadda, and the Revival of Sculpture 

IN Porphyry, no 

The Cortile of the Belvedere in the Vatican, in the 

Sixteenth Century, 115 

Paragon (Touchstone) and other Stones associated 

with it by Vasari, 117 

Tuscan Marble Quarries, 119 

The Round Temple on the Piazza S. Luigi dei Francesi, 

AND 'Maestro Gian,' 128 

Rusticated Masonry, 132 

Vasari's Opinion on Mediaeval Architecture, 133 

Egg-shell Mosaic, - 136 

Ideal Architecture ; an Ideal Palace, 138 


Chapter I. (VIII.) 

What Sculpture is ; how good works of Sculpture are made, and 
what qualities they must possess to be esteemed perfect, 143 

§36. The Nature of Sculpture {li^l). §37. Qualities necessary 
for Work in the Round (143). § 38. Works of Sculpture should 
be treated with a view to their destined position (145). § 39- The 
Proportions of the Human Figure (146). §40. Artists must 
depend on their fudgement rather than 07i the Measuring 
Rule (146). 

Chapter II. (IX.) 

Of the manner of making Models in Wax and in Clay ; how 
they are draped, and how they are afterwards enlarged in 



proportion in the Marble ; how Marbles are worked with the 
point and the toothed tool, and are rubbed with pumice stone 
and polished till they are perfect, 148 

§41. The small Sketch-ModelinWax or Clay (iii,%). §42- The 
Preparation of Wax (148). § 43. Polychrome Wax Effigies (149). 
§ 44. The Manipulation of Wax over an Armature (149)- 
§45. The Small Model in Clay (149). §46. The Full-sized 
Model in Clay (150). § 47. Drapery on the Clay Model (150). 
§ 48. Transference of the Full-sized Model to the Marble 
Block (151). §49. Danger of dispensing with the Full-sized 
Model (151). § 50. The Tools and Materials used in Marble 
Carving {ic,2). 

Chapter III. (X.) 

Of Low and Half Reliefs, the difificulty of making them and how 

to bring them to perfection, 1 54 

§ 51. The Origin of Reliefs (154). § 52. Pictorial or Per- 
spective Reliefs (154). § 53. Low Reliefs {Bassi Rilievi) (156). 
§ 54. Flat Reliefs {Stiacciati Rilievi) (156). 

Chapter IV. (XI.) 

How Models for large and small Bronze Figures are made, with 
the Moulds for casting them and their Armatures of iron ; and 
how they are cast in metal and in three sorts of Bronze ; and 
how after they are cast they are chased and refined ; and how, 
if they lack pieces that did not come out in the cast, these are 
grafted and joined in the same bronze, 158 

§55. The Full-sized Model for Bronze {is'S). §56. The Piece- 
Mould in Plaster (158). § 5 7. The Construction of the Core (159). 
§58. The Piece- Mould lined with a Skin of Wax {ido). §59. This 
Skin of Wax applied over the Core (160). § 60. The fire- 
resisting Envelope applied over the Wax (161). §61. The 
External Armature (162). § 62. The Vents (162). § 63. The 
Wax melted out {162). § 64. The Mould in the Casting-pit ( 1 63). 
§ 65. The Composition of the Bronze (163). § 66. Making up 
Imperfections (164). § 67. A simpler Method of Casting small 
Figures and Reliefs {16^). §68. Chasing the Cast and Colouring 
the Bronze (165). § 69. Modern Tours de Force in small 
Castings (i65). 



Chapter V. (XII.) 

Concerning Steel Dies for making Medals of bronze or other 
metals and how the latter are formed from these metals and 
from Oriental Stones and Cameos, 167 

§70. The Fabrication of Matrices for Medals {lb"]). §71. The 
Cutting of Intaglios and Cameos (168). 

Chapter VI. (XIII.) 

How works in White Stucco are executed, and of the manner 
of preparing the Wall underneath for them, and how the work 
is carried out, - 1 70 

§72. Modelled and stamped Plaster IVork {lyo). 

Chapter VII. (XIV.) 

How Figures in Wood are executed and of what sort of Wood 

is best for the purpose, - 173 

§ 73. Wood Carding (i 73). 

Notes on 'Introduction' to Sculpture, 177 

The Nature of Sculpture, 179 

Sculpture Treated for Position, 180 

Waxen Effigies and Medallions, 188 

Proportionate Enlargement, 190 

The Use of Full-sized Models, 192 

Italian and Greek Reliefs, 196 

The Processes of the Bronze Founder, - 199 


Chapter I. (XV.) 

What Design is, and how good Pictures are made and known, 

and concerning the invention of Compositions, 205 

§ 74. The Nature and Materials of Design or Drawing (205). 
§ 75. Use of Design {or Drawing) in the various Arts (206). 
§ 76. On the Nature of Painting (208). 



Chapter II. (XVI.) 
Of Sketches, Drawings, Cartoons, and Schemes of Perspective ; 
how they are made, and to what use they are put by the 
Painters, - 212 

§ ^^. Sketches, Drawings, and Cartoons of different kinds (;2\-2). 
§ 78. The Use of Cartoons in Mural and Panel Painting (215). 

Chapter III. (XVII.) 

Of the Foreshortening of Figures looked at from beneath, and 

of those on the Level, - - - 216 

§79, Foreshortenings {21b). 

Chapter IV. (XVIII.) 

How Colours in oil painting, in fresco, or in tempera should 
be blended : and how the Flesh, the Draperies and all that is 
depicted come to be harmonized in the work in such a manner 
that the figures do not appear cut up, and stand out well and 
forcibly and show the work to be clear and comprehensible, 218 

§80. On Colouring {2 iS). 

Chapter V. (XIX.) 

Of Painting on the Wall, how it is done, and why it is called 
Working in Fresco, - - 221 

§81. The Fresco process {22\). 

Chapter VI. (XX.) 

Of Painting in Tempera, or with ^%'g, on Panel or Canvas, and 

how it is employed on the wall which is dry, 223 

§ 82. Painting in Tempera (223). 

Chapter VII. (XXI.) 
Of Painting in Oil on Panel or on Canvas, - 226 

§ 83. Oil Painting, its Discovery and Early History (226). 
§ 84. How to Prime the Panel or Canvas (230). § 85. Drawing, 
by transfer or directly (231). 



Chapter VIII. (XXII.) 

Of Painting in Oil on a Wall which is dry, - - - 232 

§ 86. Mural Painting in Oil (232). § 87. Vasaris own 
Method {21-^. 

Chapter IX. (XXIII.) 
Of Painting in Oil on Canvas, 236 

§ 88. Painting on Canvas (236). 

Chapter X. (XXIV.) 

Of painting in Oil on Stone, and what stones are good for the 
purpose, - 238 

§ 89. Oil painting on Stone (238). 

Chapter XI. (XXV.) 

Of Painting on the wall in Monochrome with various earths : 
how objects in bronze are imitated : and of groups for Triumphal 
Arches or festal structures, done with powdered earths mixed 
with size, which process is called Gouache and Tempera, 240 

§ go. Imitative Paintings for Decorations (240). 

Chapter XII. (XXVI.) 

Of the Sgraffiti for house decoration which withstand water ; 
that which is used in their production ; and how Grotesques 
are worked on the wall, 243 

§ 91. S^affito-work (243). § 92. Grotesques, or Fanciful 
Devices, painted or modelled on Walls (244). 

Chapter XIII. (XXVII.) 
How Grotesques are worked on the Stucco, - 246 

Chapter XIV. (XXVIII.) 

Of the manner of applying Gold on a Bolus, or with a Mordant, 

and other methods, 248 

§ 93. Methods of Gilding (248). 



Chapter XV. (XXIX.) 

Of Glass Mosaic and how it is recognized as good and praise- 
worthy, 251 

§ 94. Glass Mosaics (251). § 95. The Preparation of the 
Mosaic Cubes (253). § 96. The Fixing of the Mosaic Cubes (255). 

Chapter XVI. (XXX.) 

Concerning the Compositions and Figures made in Inlaid Work 

on Pavements in imitation of objects in Monochrome, 258 

§ 97. Pavements in Marble Mosaic and Monochrome (258). 
§ 98. Pavements in Variegated Tiles (260). § 99. Pavements iti 
Breccia Marble (261). 

Chapter XVII. (XXXI.) 

Of Mosaic in Wood, that is, of Tarsia ; and of the Compositions 
that are made in Tinted Woods, fitted together after the manner 
of a picture, - - - - 262 

§ 100. Inlays in Wood (262). 

Chapter XVIII. (XXXII.) 

On Painting Glass Windows and how they are put together with 
Leads and supported with Irons so as not to interfere with the 
view of the figures, - - - 265 

§ loi. Stained Glass IVindows, their Origin and History (265). 
§ 102. The Technique of the Stained Glass Window (268). 

Chapter XIX. (XXXIII.) 

Of Niello, and how by this process we have Copper Prints ; and 
how Silver is engraved to make Enamels over Bas-relief, and 
in like manner how Gold and Silver Plate is chased, - - 273 

§ 103. Niello Work (273). § 104. The Origin of Engrav- 
ing (274). § 105. Enamels over Reliefs (276). 

IChapter XX. (XXXIV.) 
Of Tausia, that is, work called Damascening, - - . 279 

§ 106. Metal Inlays (279). 



Chapter XXI. (XXXV.) 

Of Wood Engraving and the method of executing it and con 
cerning its first Inventor : how Sheets which appear to be drawn 
by hand and exhibit Lights and Half-tones and Shades, are 

produced with three Blocks of Wood, - - 281 

§ 107. Chiaroscuro Wood Engravings (281). § 108. Depend- 
ence on Design of the Decorative Arts (284). 

Notes on 'Introduction' to Painting, 285 

Fresco Painting, - - 287 

Tempera Painting, 291 

Oil Painting, - 294 

Enriched Fa9ades, 298 

Stucco 'Grotesques,' - 299 

Tarsia Work, or Wood Inlays, - 303 

The Stained Glass Window, - 308 

Vasari's Description of Enamel Work, - 311 



Specimens of Stones mentioned by Vasari. (Reproduction in 

colour of a drawing by the Editor.) Frontispiece. 

Portrait of Vasari, from the Edition of 1568. Probably 
by a German artist called in Italy ' Cristoforo Coriolano.' 

Tail-piece to List of Illustrations. 

Plate I. Leo X with his Cardinals. Mural Painting by Vasari 
in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. (From a photograph by 
Alinari.) To face p. 17 

Plate II. Principal Doorway at S. Maria Novella, Florence, 
showing the position of the inscribed porphyry tablet on the 
riser of the step. (From a photograph by Alinari.) To face p. 32 

Plate III. Portrait in Porphyry of Cosimo 'Pater Patriae,' 
BY Francesco del Tadda, in the Magazines of the National 
Museum, Florence. (From a photograph by the Editor.) 
Unpublished. To face p. 34 

Plate IV. Interior of Grotto in Boboli Gardens, Florence, 
showing an unfinished statue ascribed to Michelangelo. (From 
a photograph by the Editor.) To face p. 90 

Plate V. Portrait in Porphyry of Leo X, by Francesco 
del Tadda, in the Magazines of the National Museum, 
Florence. (From a photograph by the Editor.) Unpubhshed. 

To face p. 114 


Plate VI. Salamander Carved in Travertine, on the Fagade 
of S. Luigi dei Francesi, Rome. The work of a French artist 
' Maestro Gian.' (From a photograph by the Editor.) Un- 
published. To face p. 132 

Plate VII. Illustration showing Process of Piece-Moulding 

IN Plaster. (From the French EncydopMie.) To face p. 160 

Plate VIII. Engravings illustrating the Process of Casting 

IN Bronze. (From the French EncydopMie^ To face p. 164 

Plate IX. Statue of S. Rocco carved in Lime-wood, by a French 
artist ' Maestro Janni,' in the Church of the Annunziata, 
Florence. (From a drawing by Robert J. Rose.) Unpublished. 

To face p. 176 

Plate X. A. Interior of a Sculptor's Studio in the 

F.IGHTEENTH CENTURY, with illustrations of the methods of 

measurement then in vogue. (From the French EncydopMie.) 

B. Diagram to illustrate Leon Battista Alberti's 

method of measurement. To face p. 192 

Plate XI. Specimen of so-called 'Sgraffito' Decoration, on 
the exterior of the Palazzo Montalvo, Florence. (From a 
photograph by Alinari.) To face p. 244 

Plate XII. Portion of the Decoration of the Loggie of 
THE Vatican, by Raphael and his assistants. (Reproduced 
in colour from a hand-painted example of the engravings of 
about 1770-80 by Ottaviani and Volpato, in the National 
Art Library.) To face p. 248 

Plate XIII. Specimen of Niello Work. A 'Pax,' formerly in 
the Baptistry, and now in the National Museum, Florence. 
(From a photograph by Alinari.) To face p. 274 

Plate XIV. Chiaroscuro Wood-Engraving by Ugo da Carpi, 
in the Print-Room, British Museum. Subject: 'Jacob's 
Dream,' after Raphael. To face p. 282 

Plate XV. Head of Mary, from Luini's Fresco of the 
'Marriage of the Virgin' at Saronno. (From a 
photograph by Giacomo Brogi.) To illustrate the fresco 
technique. To face p. 290 


Plate XVI. Example of Tarsia Work. S. Zenobi, by Giuliano 
da Majano, in Opera del Duomo, Florence. (From a 
photograph by Alinari.) To face p. 306 

Plate XVII. Painted Glass Window in the Laurentian 
Library, Florence. (From a photograph by Alinari.) 

To face p. 310 


Fig. I. Inscribed Porphyry Tablet at S. Maria Novella, Florence. 

(Drawn from a photograph by the Editor.) P- 31 

P'ig. 2. Tools mentioned by Vasari, etc. (From drawings by the 

Translator and Editor.) p. 48 

Fig. 3. Fortezza da Basso at Florence. (Drawn from a photograph 

by the Editor.) p. 67 

Fig. 4. Rusticated masonry on the exterior of the Fortezza da Basso 

at Florence. (Measured drawing by the Editor.) p. 69 

Fig. 5. Construction of the Portico of the Uffizi at Florence, from 

Vasari's description. (Drawn by the Editor.) p. 71 

Fig. 6. Drawing of the remains of the Basilica Aemilia in the 
Forum at Rome, that survived to the time of Vasari. (After 
Giuliano da San Gallo, in Monumenti del Istituto, XII, 
T. II, 12.) p. 77 

Fig. 7. Roman Doric Cap, with Stucco Finish, at S. Nicola in 
Carcere, Rome. (From Mitteilungen d. k. deutschen archeo- 
logischen Insiituts, xxi.) p. 78 

Fig. 8. Portion of a Plan of Rome, before recent alterations, from 

Nolli, Nuova Pianta di Roma, 1748. p. 105 

Fig. 9. Sketch of shape of the large porphyry Tazza in the Sala 

Rotonda of the Vatican. p. 109 


Fig. 10. Sketch map of the marble-producing districts of the 

Apiian Alps. p. 121 

Fig. II. Two views of unfinished Greek marble statue blocked 
out on the ancient system. In quarries on Mount Pentelicus, 
Athens. (From a photograph kindly furnished by M. Georges 
Nicole.) p. 193 

probably by a German artist, called in Italy ' Cristoforo Coriolano ' 



When Vasari published in 1550 his famous Lives of the 
Artists, he prefixed to the work an Introduction, divided into 
three parts headed respectively Architecture, Sculpture, and 
Painting. In the text of the Lives he refers more than once 
to this preliminary matter under the terms ' parte teorica ' 
and ' capitoli delle teoriche, ' but as a fact it only consists 
to a small extent in ' theory,' that is in aesthetic discussions 
on the general character of the arts and the principles that 
underlie them. The chief interest of the chapters is technical. 
They contain practical directions about materials and processes, 
intended in the first place to enlighten the general reader on 
subjects about which he is usually but little informed ; and 
in the second, to assist those actually engaged in the operations 
of the arts. 

To some of the readers of the original issue of Vasari's 
work these technical chapters proved of special interest, for 
we find a Flemish correspondent writing to him to say that 
on the strength of the information therein contained he had 
made practical essays in art, not wholly without success. This 
same correspondent, as Vasari tells us in the chapter on 
Flemish artists at the end of the Lives, hearing that the work 
was to be reprinted, wrote in the name of many of his com- 
patriots to urge Vasari to prefix to the new edition a more 
extended disquisition on sculpture, painting, and architecture, 
with illustrative designs, so as to enforce the rules of art 
after the fashion of Alberti, Albrecht Diirer, and other artists. 
This seemed however to Vasari to involve too great an 
alteration in the scheme of his work, and in the edition of 
1568 he preserved the original form of the Introduction, though 
he incorporated with it considerable additions. It is worth 



noting that the increase is chiefly in the earlier part, as if 
Vasari began his revision with the intention of carrying out 
the suggestion of his correspondents, but gave up the idea 
of substantial enlargement as he went on. For example the 
first chapter in the 'Introduction' to Architecture is half as 
long again in the second as in the first edition, and Architecture 
generally is increased by a third part, while in Sculpture the 
additions are trifling. The total additions amount to nearly 
one seventh of the whole. The matter thus added is in general 
illustrative of the previous text, and adduces further examples 
of work under review. It is this extended Introduction of 
the second, or 1568, edition, which is now completely trans- 
ited and issued with the needful commentary. 

The reputation of the writer and the value of his world- 
renowned biographies naturally give importance to matter 
which he has deliberately prefixed to these, and it is somewhat 
surprising that though the text has been constantly printed 
it has not been annotated, and that it has never yet been 
rendered as a whole into English, nor, as far as can be 
ascertained, into any other European language. 

Ernst Berger , i n his learned a nd valuable Beitrage_zur_Erit- 
wickltm gs-Geschichte der Maltechmkj^y}exi§JFo\ge^ 
i 9oi, "3oes justice to Vasari 's Treatise, of which, as he says, 
' the thirty-five chapters contain a complete survey of the manual 
activities of the time, in connection with which Vasari gives 
us very important information on the condition of technique 
in the sixteenth century, ' and he translates the chapters relating 
to painting with one or two useful notes. There was 
apparently an intention of editing Vasari 's Introduction in 
the Vienna series of Technical Treatises (Quellenschriften) 
but the project was not carried out. Anglo-Saxon readers will 
note that the chapters do not appear in the classic English 
translation by Mrs Jonathan Foster, nor in the American 
reprint of selected Lives lately edited with annotations by 
Blashfield and Hopkins ; they are omitted also from the French 
translation by Leclanch6, and from that into German by 
Ludwig- Schorn. Mrs Foster explains that she only meant to 
translate the Lives and not Vasari 's ' other works ' ; while 
the German editor, though he admits the value of the technical 


chapters to the artist, thinks that the latter ' would have in 
any case to go to the original because many of the technical 
terms would not be intelligible in translation.' 

On this it may be remarked that the chapters in question 
are not ' other works ' in the sense in which we should use 
the term in connection with Vasari's Letters, and the 
' Ragionamenti,' or description of his own performances in 
the Palazzo Vecchio at Florence, that are_ all_ printed by 
Milanesi in the Sansoni edition oT~ Vasari's works. The 
chapters are distinctly a part, and a valuable part, of the 
main work of the author, and it is difficult to see any valid 
reason why they should ever have been dissociated from it. 
With regard to the reason for omission given by the German 
editor, surely the resources of the translator's art are not so 
limited as he supposed ! It may be claimed, at any rate, that 
in what follows a conscientious effort has been made to find 
techpical terms in English equivalent to Vasari's, and yet 
intelligible to the reader. Where such terms do not seem 
to be clear, a footnote has been added in explanation. 

It is probable that the real reason of the neglect of Vasari's 
Introduction by his translators has been the fact that when 
these translations were made, more than half-a-century ago, 
not much interest was taken by the reading public in the 
technical processes of the arts, and this part of Vasari's work 
was passed over in order not to delay the reader anxious for 
the biographical details the author presents in so lively a 
fashion. At the present time, largely as a result of the inspiring 
influence of William Morris alike upon the craftsmen and the 
artistic public, people have been generally awakened to the 
interest and importance of these questions of technique, and 
a new translator of Vasari would certainly not be betrayed 
into this omission. The present translation and commentary 
may therefore claim to fill a gap that ought never to have 
been suffered to exist, and on this ground to need no explana- 
tion nor apology. Some English writers on the technique of 
the arts, such as Mrs Merrifield and the late G. T. Robinson, 
have made considerable use of the material that Vasari has 
placed before students in these Introductory Chapters, and 
the practical service that they have thus rendered is an 


additional reason why they should be brought as a whole in 
convenient form before English readers. 

Readers familiar with Vasari's Lives will miss in the 
technical Introduction much of the charm and liveliness of 
style in which they have been wont to delight. Vasari indeed 
had a natural gift for biographical writing. He had a sense 
of light and shade and of contrast in colouring that animates 
his literary pictures, and is the secret of the fascination of 
his work, while it explains at the same time some of its 
acknowledged defects. Above all things he will have variety. 
If one artist have been presented to the reader of the Lives 
as a man of the world in constant touch with his fellows, the 
next artist who comes forward on the stage is a recluse. If 
one be open and free, another is secretive and brooding; the 
artist jealous of his brother's fame and envious of his secrets 
is contrasted with the genial companion ready to impart all 
he knows to his less fortunate compeer. In bringing out these 
picturesque comparisons, the writer sometimes forces the note, 
and is a little more regardful of effect than of strict bio- 
graphical accuracy, J^ and this accounts for some of the censure 
which in the modern critical age has fallen to the lot of the 

The technical disquisitions in the Introduction afford little 
opportunity for picturesque writing of this kind, and they 
must be judged from another standpoint. They have certain 
obvious defects that are however counterbalanced by qualities 
of much value. Vasari's treatment in many parts lacks 
system and completeness, his statement is wanting in clearness, 
his aesthetic comments are often banal. On the other hand 
there are sections or chapters of great, even enthralling, 
interest, as when he discourses with all a Florentine's 
enthusiasm on the virile and decided handling of a master in 
fresco painting; or lets us follow step by step from the small 
sketch to the finished casting the whole process of making a 
great bronze statue. Throughout the treatise moreover, we 

1 Berenson, Tie Drawings of the Florentine Painters, London, 1903, I, p. 18, 
says that Vasari ' was an indifferent connoisseur and a poor historian ; but he was 
a great appreciator - . . and a passionate anecdote-monger. Now the Anecdote 
must have sharp contrasts . . . . ' 

have the advantage of hearing a practical craftsman speaking 
about the processes and materials with which he is himself 
familiar, for Vasari, though he did not put his own hand to 
nearly all the kinds of work he describes, yet was all his Ufe 
a professional, in intimate touch with craftsmen in every 
branch of artistic production. If he did not make painted 
glass windows, he at any rate designed for them. His mural 
work involved modelled and stamped plaster enrichment and 
wood carving, while his sections on different processes of 
decoration for temporary purposes derive a personal interest 
from the fact that the writer was a famous expert in the 
construction and adornment of showy fabrics for pageants and 
state entries, of which his own letters give tis many details. 
If he be unavoidably tedious in his description of the Orders 
of Architecture, he enlivens this by a digression on his own 
devices in the masonry of the Uffizi palace. The august figure 
of Michelangelo sometimes crosses the page, and in the midst 
of the rather copious eulogies of which Vasari is lavish, we 
find here and there some record of a word or work of 
Buonarroti which reminds us of the author's intimate personal 
relation to the master whom he calls in a letter ' il mio rarissimo 
e divinissimo Vecchio. ' 

Vasari 's general intention in this Introduction he explains at 
the close of the ' Proemio ' to the whole work that precedes the 
technical chapters. The Introduction is primarily to instruct 
' every gracious spirit in the most noble matters that appertain 
to the artistic professions ' ; and next in order, ' for his delight 
and service, to give him to know in what qualities the various 
masters differed among themselves, and how they adorned 
and how they benefitted each in his own way their country ' ; 
and finally to enable any one that wills to gain advantage 
from the labour and cunning of those who in times past have 
excelled in the arts. Architecture will be shown to be the 
most universal, the most necessary, and the most useful of 
human arts, for whose service and adornment the other two 
arts exist ; the different qualities of stones will be demonstrated, 
with the styles of building and their proper proportions, and 
the characteristics of good designs and good construction. 
Next in order comes Sculpture, and here will be shown the 


manner of working statues, in their correct forms and pro- 
portions, and the qualities that make sculpture good, ' with 
all the directions for work that are most secret and most 
precious.' Lastly, the treatment of Painting will include 
design; the methods of colouring and of carrying out a 
picture; the characteristics of painting and its subordinate 
branches, with ifcosaics of every sort, niello work, enamels, 
damascening, and finally engravings after pictures. 

Vasari's treatise does not stand alone but is only one among 
many technical and theoretical essays which have come down 
to us from various epochs both of the middle ages and of the 
Renaissance. The nature and the value of it will be best 
understood if we compare it with one or two representative 
publications of a similar kind, contemporary with it or of 
earlier date. The comparison will serve to show the spirit 
in which Vasari writes, and to exhibit the strong and the 
weak points in his work. 

About the middle of the last century, a number of t echnical 
treatises_and_TOU£crions_^_re^^^^ from MSS. of the twelfth 

^o the eighteenth centuries^ were edited and published by 
Mrs Merrifield , and the acumen and accuracy with which she 
fulfilled her laborious task are warmly eulogized by Dr Albert 
Ilg, the learned editor of Theophilus and Cennini in the Vienna 
Quellenschriften. The most important of existing treatises 
o^_tihe kind are howw^ not i^luded^ in Mrs Merri%jy's 
work ^ though t hey have_ l3e_e n. translated and., edited separately 
both by he r_ and by _Qth£r— scholars. The recenjt^gi^lication 
-» by Ernst Berger noticed above givegj^ja mpst-Comg jete a ccoun t 
of_ail^Jhis_Jte(^tiiii£aJ^Ete^ Those of the early treatises 

or tracts that consist in little more than collections of recipes 
need not detain us, and the only works of which we need 
here take account are the following: (i) The Schedula 
Diversarum Artium of Theophilus, a compendium of the 
decorative arts as they were practised in the mediaeval 
inonastery, drawn up by a German monk of the eleventh or 
twelfth century; (2) II Libra dell' Arte, o Trattato della Pittura 
of the Florentine painter Cennino Cennini, written in the early 
part of the fifteenth century; (3) The De Re Aedificatoria and 
the tracts Delia Pittura and Della Scultura, written rather later 


and in quite a different vein, by the famous Florentine humanist 
and artist Leon Battista Alberti; (4) Benvenuto Cellini's 
treatises, Sopra V Oreficeria e la Scultura, that belong 
to the same period as Vasari's own Introduction, and partly 
cover the same ground. There are later treatises, such as 
Borghini's II Riposo, 1584; Armenini's Dei veri Precetti della 
Piffwrn, 1587; Pacheco's Arte de la Pintura, iG^g; Palomino's 
El Museo Pictorico, etc., 1715-24, which all contain matter of 
interest, but need not be specially noticed in this place. Some 
of these later writers depend very largely on Vasari. 

The fact just stated about the treatises of Cellini and Vasari 
suggests the question whether the two are independent, or, 
if borrowing existed, which treatise owes most to this adven- 
titious aid. The dates of Vasari's two editions have already 
been given. Cellini's two Trattati first appeared in 1568 the 
same year as Vasari's second edition, and there exists a 
second recension of his text which formed the basis of 
Milanesi's edition of 1857, republished in 1893. It is worth 
noting that Vasari's account of bronze casting, in which we 
should expect reliance on Cellini, appears in full in the first 
edition of 1550, and the same applies to the account of die- 
sinking. On the other hand Celini's notice of the Tuscan 
building stones, pietra serena, etc., seems like a clearer 
statement of what we find in Vasari's edition of 1550. On 
the whole i t was Cellini who used Vasari rat her than Vasari 
Cellini, though the tracts can be regarded as practically 
independent. T he Tya tfafi^pf Cellini, are really comp lementary 
to. Vasari's ' Introductions. ' 

Vasari, as he says of himself, was _painter an d_ architec t, 
while Celliniwas scul ptor and worker in metal. In matters 
like die-sinking, niello work, enamelling, and the making of 
medals, Cellini gives the fuller and more practical information, 
for these were not exactly in the province of the Aretine, while 
Vasari on his side gives us much information, especially on 
the processes of painting and on architectural subjects, for 
which we look in vain to Cellini. 

Allowing for these differences, the two treatises agree in 
the general picture that they give of the artistic activity of 
their times, and thev_faithfully reflect th e spirit of t jiejjjgh 


Renaissance, w hen the arts were made the instruments o f 
a dazzling, even ostentati ous, parade, jn_wHch_,decadence was 
unmistakeably prefigured. From this point of view, the point 
of view, that is, of the general artistic tone of an age, it is 
interesting to draw a comparison between the spirit of the 
treatises of Vasari and Cellini on the one side, and on the 
other the spirit of the earlier writings already referred to. If 
the former bring us into contact with the Renaissance in the 
heyday of its pride, the artistic tractates of Alberti, of a 
century before, show us the Renaissance movement in its 
strenuous youth, already self-conscious, but militant and dis- 
posed to work rather than to enjoy. C ennini's Book of Art, 
though certainly written in the lifetime of Alberti, belongs 
in spirit to the previous, that is to the fourteenth, century. It 
reflects the life of the mediaeval guilds, when artist and crafts-' 
man were still one, and the practice of the arts proceeded 
on traditional lines in urban workshops where master and 
apprentices worked side by side on any commissions that their 
fellow citizens chose to bring. Lastly the Schedula of the 
monkJTheoghilus introduces us into quite a different atmosphere 
of art. Carrying us back for two hundred years, it shows 
us art cultivated in an ascetic community in independence of 
patrons or guilds or civic surroundings ; on purely religious 
lines for the glory of the Almighty and the fitting adornment 
of His house. 

This treatise by Theophil us is by far th e most interesting 
and valuable of all those that have been named. No literary 
product of the middle ages is more precious, for it reflects, 
a side of mediaeval life of which we should otherwise be 
imperfectly informed. Can it be possible, we ask ourselves, 
that men vowed to religion in its most ascetic form, who 
had turned their backs on the world's vain shows and whose 
inward eye was to see only the mystic light of vision, could 
devote time and care to the minutiae of the craftsman's 
technique? Such however was the fact. We cannot read the 
first few pages of Theophilus without recognizing that the 
religion of the writer was both sincere and fervent, and that 
such religion seemed to him to find a natural outcome in art. 
Art moreover with the German monk was essentially a matter 


W technique. From end to end of the treatise there is com- 
oaratively little about art as representative. Sculpture and 
pointing indeed in the monastic period were not capable of 
embodying the ideal, so as to produce on the spectator the 
religious impression of a Madonna by Angelico or Raphael. 
The art of the eleventh and twelfth centuries was decorative, 
and aimed at an effect of beauty with an under suggestion 
of symbolism. Theophilus troubles himself little about sym- 
bolism but bases everything on a knowledge of materials and 
processes ; and in the workshop, whose homely construction 
and fittings he describes, we are invited to see the gold and 
silver and bronze, the coloured earths, the glass stained with 
metallic oxides, all taking shape in dainty and beautiful forms, 
and coming together in discreet but opulent display, till, as 
he phrases it, the Abbey Church which they bedeck and furnish 
' shall shine like the garden of Paradise. ' For to the mind 
of the pious craftsman this church is a microcosm. Creative 
skill has made it all beautiful within, and this is the skill of 
man, but it is only his in so far as man shares the nature of 
the Divine Artist that fashioned the vast macrocosm of the 
universe. Artistic knowledge and craftsmanship are a part 
of the original heritage of man as he was made in the image 
of God the creator, and to win back this heritage by patient 
labour and contriving is a religious duty, in the fulfilment of 
which the Holy Spirit will Himself give constant aid. 
Theophilus enumerates from St Paul the seven gifts of the 
Spirit, and shows how the knowledge, the wisdom, the counsel, 
and the might, thus imparted to men, all find a field of exercise 
in the monastic workshop. 

Cennino Cennini da CoUe di Val d' Elsa was not a devotee 
nor a man of religion, but a city tradesman and employer of 
labour. Art in his time had taken up its abode in the towns 
that were the seat of the artistic activity of the Gothic period 
in France and the neighbouring countries. It was there 
practised by laymen in secular surroundings, but as the French 
Cathedrals and the work of Giotto and Simone Martini testify, 
on religious subjects and in a spirit of piety. Some gleams 
of the visionary light that irradiates the workshop of Theophilus 
fall across the panels which Cennini and his apprentices smooth 


and clamp, and prime with gesso, and paint with forms of 
the Madonna or the Crucified. In one of his chapters he 
demands for the artist. a, cha ste and almost ascetic life , as of 
one who studies thp.nln gy nr philosophy, and again he bi ds 
him cloth e himself for his art with love and obedience, .w ith 
patience and g."dl y fea- c. When beginning a delicate piece 
of manipulation Cennini bids the worker ' Invoke the name 
of God,' and it is characteristic too that he tells him that 
such work must not be executed in haste, but ' with great 
affection and care.' In the main however, Cennini 's treatise 
is occupied with a description of the processes of painting 
traditional in the school of Florence, that was dominated 
throughout the fourteenth century by the commanding figure 
of Giotto. We learn from the Trattato how walls were 
plastered and prepared for the mural painter, and can measure 
how far the technical practice of fresco had at the time been 
carried. Fresco painting, on which the reader will find a Note 
at the close of the ' Introduction ' to Painting, was only the 
revival of an art familiar to the ancients, but the best form 
of the technique, called by the Itahans ' buon fresco,' was 
only completely recovered in the course of the fifteenth century. 
In the school of Giotto, represented by Cennini, the practice 
was as yet imperfect, but his account of it is full of interest. 
Painting on panels and on the vellum of books he thoroughly 
understands, and his notices of pigments and media convey 
much valuable information. Amongst other things he seems 
quite au fait in the practice of oil-painting, which Vasari has 
made many generations believe was an invention of the Flemish 
van Eyck. 

The chief importance however of Cennini for the present 
purpose is to be found in his implicit reliance on authority and 
tradition, in which he contrasts most markedly, as we shall 
see, with his fellow-countryman and successor, Leon Battista 
Alberti. Cennini had himself worked for twelve years with 
Agnolo Gaddi the son of Taddeo Gaddi, for twenty-four years 
the pupil and assistant of Giotto, and he warns the student 
against changing his teacher, and so becoming, as he calls it, 
a ' phantasist. ' To quote his own words, ' do thou direct 
thy course by this rule according to which I will instruct thee 


in the painter's art, for Giotto the great master himself 
followed it. Four and twenty years was Taddeo Gaddi, the 
Florentine, his scholar; Taddeo's son was Agnolo; Agnolo 
kept me by him twelve years, during which he taught me to 
paint in this manner,' and he points the moral from his own 
experience, ' At the earliest moment you can, put yourself under 
the best master you can find, and stay with him as long as 
you are able.' 

Cennini. who seems to have been b orn about tt/2. probably 
wrote his Trattato Acmards the close pf his 1ifp,j and there is 
MS. authority for dating the tract Delia Pittura of Leon 
Battista Alberti about 1435, so that the two works may have 
been composed within the same generation. The contrast 
between them is however most striking. Cenni ni's id ^as are 
w holly those of the fourt eenth century, w hen guild tradition s 
were su preme over artistic tt cagtice ; wh ereas Alberti is possessed 
b y the spirit of thp F.arly Rpngi ssnnrp., of which he is indeed 
one of the most representative figures. In his view the artist 
should base his life and his work on the new humanis tic 
c ulture of the age, and build up his a rt on science and the 
study of nature an c } Qn_.tli £-.e xsmple of the masters of a ntiouitK. 
With regard to the last, the reader, who hears Alberti invoking 
the legendary shades of Pheidias and Zeuxis and Apelles, may 
suspect that a new authority is being set up in place of the 
old and that the promised freedom for the arts is to be only 
in the name. It is of course true that the reliance on classical 
models, which came into fashion with the Revival of Learning, 
was destined in future times to lie like an incubus on the arts, 
and to give an occasion for many famous revolts ; but these 
times were not yet, an d with Alberti the appeal to antiqui ty 
i&Jittle more Jiian..a„iasliion_of-s,peech.. At other epochs, when 
men have suddenly broken loose from some old-established 
authoritative system, they have turned to the classical world 
for the support which its sane and rationally based intellectual 
and political systems seemed to offer. It was so at the time 
of the French Revolution, and so it was earlier when the men 
of the fifteenth century were passing out from under the shadow 
of mediaeval authority. Alberti seems to find satisfaction in 
the thought of the existence of unquestionable models of pev- 


fection in those classical masters whose names were current 
in humanistic circles, but he makes but little practical use 
of them. It is remarkable indeed how little direct influence 
in the essentials of art was exercised over the Italian painting 
and sculpture of the fifteenth century by the models of the 
past. Classical subjects come in by the side of the more 
familiar religious themes, and accessories in pictures are drawn 
largely from antique remains, but the influence does not pene- 
trate very deep. How little there is that is classical in the 
spirit and even the form of the art of Donatello ! How closely 
we have to scan the work or the utterances of Leonardo to 
find a trace of the study of Roman or Hellenic antiquity ! 

With Alberti, as with the humanists in art in general, the 
watchword was ' Nature. ' As if with direct reference to what 
Cennini had said about adhering to a chosen master, Alberti 
in the third book of his Delia Pittura, derides those who follow 
their predecessors so closely as to copy all their errors. 
Equally at fault are those who work out of their own head 
without proper models before them. The real mistress is 
nature. Now ever since the beginning of the Italian revival 
the study of nature had been set before the artist, and Cennini 
bids the craftsman never to pass a day without making some 
drawing from a natural object. The study of nature however, 
with Alberti and the masters of the Early Renaissance, meant 
something more. The outward aspect of things was to be 
narrowly observed, and he instances the effect of wind on the 
drapery of figures, but underneath this outward aspect the 
artist was to explore the inner structure upon which the 
external appearance depends. The nude figure must be under- 
stood under the drapery, the skeleton and muscular system 
beneath the integument. Then nature as a whole, that is to 
say, figures and objects in their mutual relations, must be 
investigated, and this on a basis of mathematical science. 
Alberti ha s a passion for ge ometry, and begins his treatise 
with a study from thi s point. oX view of visibl e surfaces ^ The 
relation of the eye to visual objects, and especially the changes 
which .these are seen to undergo in their sizes and relations 
according as the eye is moved, lead on to the study of per- 
spective, on which science, as is well known, depended so 


much of the advance in painting in the fifteenth century. 
Everything in a picture is to be studied from actual persons 
or objects. It will add life and actuality to a historical com- 
position if some of the heads are copied from living people 
who are generally known, but at the same time a common 
sort of realism is to be avoided, for the aim of the artist 
should not be mere truth to nature but beauty and dignity. 

It is in his conception of the artist's character and life that 
Alberti is least mediaeval. Here, in the third book of Delia 
Pittura, we see emerging for the first time the familiar modern 
figure of the artist, who, as scholar and gentleman, holds a place 
apart from and above the artizan. The same conception inspires 
the interesting chapter, the tenth in the ninth book, of Alberti 's 
more important treatise De Re Aedijicatoria, where he draws 
out the character of the ideal architect , who should be ' a. 
man of fine genius, o f a great.aBPlication, of the best education , 
of thorough e x p^r^enq e and especiall y of_spund sense a nd firm 
judgement. ' The Renaissance artist was indeed to fulfil the 
idea of a perfectible human nature, the conception of which * 
is the best gift of humanism to the modern world. As sketched • 
in Delia Pittura, he was to be learned in all the liberal arts, / 
familiar with the creations of the p>oets, accustomed to converses 
with rhetoricians, ' a_man_ an_d__a_..g;ood_jnaji and__yersed.„_in 1 
all good pu rsuits .' He was to attract the admiring regard! 
of his fellows by his character and bearing, and to be marked! 
among all for grace and courtesy, for ' it is the aim and end I 
of the painter to seek to win for himself through his works \ 
praise and favour and good-will, rather than riches.' Such "^ 
a one, labouring with all diligence and penetration on the 
study of nature and of science, would win his way to the 
mastery possessed by the ancient painters, and would secure 
to himself that fame so dear to the Italian heart ! 

Tn t>iP hiinHrpH ypgrc that ;n|f i-^rf.peH hp.twpp.n the. ILfe.cniirsfS 

of-Alberti-a iid of Vasari. the Renaissan ce artist, w hom Jhe 
former,^scribes m the makin g;^, ha d become a finished product , 
and the practice of the arts was a matter of easy routine. 

Tfee-<wJis±k„£h4Ji&.men .0 

hjad-Jabgured so earnestly were solved ; the materials__ had 
become plastic to the crattsfnarT's" will*: TBejForms df na ture 


were known so well that they ceased to excite the curiosity 
which had set Leonardo's keenly sensitive nature on edge: 
At the time Vasari wrote,, witl^ the..ejLc epiMaamaL^th£', JiZenql^ans 
aad^jaLMohdaagslD^-AlLjtilg, men of genius who had c reated 
the art Q,f, fj^. ^(^ij,a.issajtae^had,,.pa.<tspri. .aHaay^^jjirl. . the, hqay 

' workers whose, multitudinous operat ions he watched and 
chronicled were, like himself, only epigoni — successors of the 
great. We have only to read Vasari 's eulogy of Michel- 
angelo^s frescoes on the vault of the Sistine, in his Life of 
that master, to see how far the tone of the age in regard to ■ 
art had changed from the time when Alberti was exhorting 
the student to work out his own artistic salvation with fear 
and trembling. ' No one,' exclaims Vasari. ' who is a painter 

_cares . now any more to look out for nov elty in invpntmng nr 
attitudes or drapery,,, for aew- piQdes -of.«.fi«ipcessi0a^aBd»4or 
sublimity in „§^ajfe£.. varied ^fiet§.jlt-a«t; seeing that all the 
per^qption which it is possible to give in work done in this 
fashion has been imparted to these figures by Michelang-elo. ' 
The cultivation of the MJcJlsIiaog^lss«[ue, instead of the severe 
and patient study of nature, that Lfeonardo had called ' the 
mistress of all masters,' marks the spirit of the Florentine and 
Roman schools after the middle of the sixteenth century, and 
Vasari 's own works in fresco and oil, hastily executed and 
on a vast scale, but devoid alike of originality and of charm, 
are the most effective exponents of the ideas of his time and 
school. At this epoch the-.actis.t,..bimself was., no. lanQ.ikr.^\if 
domjaanit^figure- in ~the^.worId of arj,, nor was his struggle for 
self-perfection in the forefront of interest for the spectator. 
The, stap-e was rathpr TOmr"a"'le.d--b-y-thp patrnn, thp pnpp 
Leo, thff nuke Cosimo or the_.Cajdi.nal Fftrrifsp nf ttip ^ a^, 
at whoS£-hLdding- the„.axtIst-mus4-.i:un_j3JJjaja i:-anr| t ytfhi-r^ anrf 
leave one task for another, till a delicate nature like Raphael's 
or Perino del Vaga's fails under the strain, and the sublime 
genius of Michelangelo is thwarted in its free expression. 
With the exception of the Venetians, most of the more 
accomplished Italian masters of the period were at work on 
commissions set them by these wealthy patrons, who lorded 
it over their kind and made the arts subservient to their 
temporal glory. For such Vasari himself was always con- 


tentedly busy on buildings or frescoes or pageants, and for 
work of the kind demanded nature had exactly equipped him. 
He was evidently embarrassed neither by ideals nor by nerves, 
but was essentially business-like. Galluzzi in his History of the 
Grand Dukes says of him that ' to the qualities of his profession 
he united a certain sagacity and alertness of spirit which 
gave to Duke Cosimo considerable pleasure from his company. ' 
He was distinguished above his fellows for the characteristic, 
not too common among artists, of always working to time. 
He might scamp his work, but he would by one method or 
another get it finished in accordance with his contract. His 
powers of application must have been of a high order, for we 
should remember that his literary output was by no means 
inconsiderable, and with his busy life the wonder is not that 
he wrote rather carelessly but that he was able to do any 
serious literary work at all. 

A favourable specimen of Vasari's decorative painting is 
the fresco in the Palazzo Vecchio at Florence, given on 
Plate I. It represents Leo X surrounded by his Cardinals, and 
introduces portraits of famous m en of the day. For instance, 
on the left above the balustrade in the upper part of the fresco 
against the opening, will be observed four heads of personages 
outside the conclave. That on the right is of Leonardo da 
Vinci and the one on the left Michelangelo's, while the two 
men with covered heads who intervene are Giuliano de' Medici, 
Due de Nemours, and his nephew Lorenzo de' Medici, Duca 
d' Urbino, the originals of Michelangelo's world-famous statues 
on the Medici tombs, that are of course treated in a wholly 
ideal fashion. It will be observed that among the foreground 
figures the heads of the second from the left and the second 
from the right are rendered with much more force and character 
than the rest. They are of Cardinal Giulio de' Medici after- 
wards Clement VII, and Cardinal de' Rossi, and Vasari has 
saved himself trouble by boldly annexing them, and with them 
the bust of the Pope, from Raphael's Portrait of Leo X, of 
which, as he tells us elsewhere, he had at one time made a 

It has been well said of him by the continuators of his 
autobiography that ' to our Giorgio nature was very bountiful 


in her gifts; study and good will had largely improved his 
natural disposition, hntjji p taste nf the times, and the artistic 
education he received, corrupted the gi fts of na t ure^ anid the 
^r,"iL.£Lilig_B"^^^'"kA. .gtudJiSS. ' Vasari was not an inspired 
artist, and he had neither the informing mind of a master 
nor the judgement of a discriminating critic, but he was, as 
we have already pointed out, above all things a thoroughly 
practical craftsman in intimate touch with all the manifold 
artistic life of the Italy of his time. He possessed m oreover 
q^nnBt gpnial pprSQnfiMty, .wJtb. W.hichL.ltJg- a pleasureL-to come 
into contact, and his good temper (which only fails him when 
he talks about Gothic art), though it may at times slightly 
provoke us, accounts for not a little of the deserved popularity 
of his writings. 1 

Vasari has nn dni^ht a| j j ill al ; )out the arts being in the most 
healtbj^-XQnditiQJL-l n -the best of al l possible artistic worlds, 
but it is" easy for us to see that this art of t he High RenaTs- 
sance was not of the ysxy. M§LkJihsLlla&.im!^ hM..^ ii^t 
oCiJLaiia2§L-ia^.5Paa«a5,,«li)fi,»i^^ outward 

P^rffiCtrCTin.i.rr-iy^'^ cannot share the facile optimism oF"^7asari 
who will admire any work, or any at least in his own school 
and style, in which there is i nitiative and force and technical 
maste ry, and in whose eyes to paint feigned architecture on 
a stucco fafade, provided it be deftly done, is as miich a 
' cosa bellissima ' as to carve the Marsuppini sarcophagus in 
S. Croce. We cannot however withhold our admiration when 
we consider the copious artistic output of the age, the manifold 
forms of aesthetic expression, the easy surrender of the most 
intractable materials to the artist's will. As we read Vasari's 
descriptions and recipes the air all about us seems full of the 
noise of the mason's hammer, the splash of plaster on the wall, 
the tinkle of the carver's chisel against the marble, the grating 
of the chaser's rasp upon the bronze. We feel ourselves 
spectators of an organized activity on a vast scale, where 

^ The materials for our knowledge of Vasari and his works are derived from 
his own Autobiography and his notes on himself in the Lives of other artists, 
as well as from the Ragionamenti and from the Letters, printed by Milanesi in 
the eighth volume of the Sansoni edition of Vasari's writings, or previously 
printed by Gaye in the third volume of the Carteggio. 




.S o 





I— I 


processes are so well understood that they go on almost of 
themselves. In the present day, in so much that is written 
about art, the personal or biographical interest is uppermost, 
and the lives of Italian artists, with their troubles and triumphs, 
absorb so much attention that one wonders whether any is 
left for Italian art. Hence one of the chief values of Vasari's 
Technical Introduction is its insistence on artistic practice in 
general, as distinct from the doings of individual artists, and 
in this it may serve as a useful supplement or corrective to the 
biographical writing now in vogue. In Va^ari, . oq ..JfiQi^-ffTiq^^ 
there jax^, np^^ ^ttractiye personal legends, like that of Giotto's 
shepherding or Donatello's adventure with the eggs, l^nt -are 
l earn in exchange to fol l ow step by step the building and 
plastering ..and painting of Giotto's chapel at Padua, an d can 
watch Donatello's helpers as they anxiously adjust; t he mould 
and core__for^ casting riie statue jofjGgJJam^i^i- 

It may assist the reader if there be here subjoined a succinct 
resum6 of the subjects treated by Vasari in the three ' Intro- 
ductions. ' 

The first of these, on Architecture, opens with a long chapter 
on stones used in building and decoration, which is important 
as the fullest notice of the subject that has come down to us 
from the Renaissance period. Into his somewhat loose dis- 
quisitions on porphyry, marbles, travertine, and other materials, 
Vasari introduces so many incidental notices of monuments 
and personages of interest, that a somewhat extended com- 
mentary has in this part been necessary. Next follows the 
inevitable chapter on the five Orders, at the close of which 
comes the notable passage in which Vasari adopts for late 
mediaeval architecture the term ' Gothic ' that has ever since 
adhered to it. With Vasari the word ' Gothic ' means ' bar- 
barian,' and he holds that the style was invented by the Goths, 
after they had conquered the Romans and destroyed all the 
good antique structures. His description of what he terms 
the ' abominations ' of slender shafts and niches and corbels 
and finials and doors that touch the roof is quite spirited, and 
might be learned by heart as a lesson in humility by some of 
our mediaeval enthusiasts. On the question whether Vasari 



was the first to use the term ' Gothic ' in this sense a word 
will be said in the Note on the passage in Vasari's text. 

Next come chapters on the architectural use of enriched 
plaster; on the rustic fountains and grottoes, the taste for 
which was coming in in Vasari's time, and which at a later 
period generated the so-called ' rocaille ' or ' rococo ' style in 
ornamentation ; and on mosaic pavements. This ' Introduction ' 
ends with a chapter on an interesting subject to which it 
does not quite do justice, the subject of ideal architecture, 
on which in that and the succeeding age a good deal was 

Though Sculpture was not Vasari's mitier his account of 
the processes of that art is full and practical, though we miss 
the personal note that runs through the descriptions of the 
same procedure in the Trattato of Cellini. After an intro- 
ductory chapter we have one on the technique of sculpture 
in marble, with an account first of the small, and then of the 
full-sized, model in clay or wax, the mechanical transfer of 
the general form of this to the marble block, and the com- 
pletion of the statue by the use of tools and processes which 
he describes. Chapter three introduces the subject of reliefs, 
and there is here of course a good deal about the picturesque 
reliefs in which perspective effects are sought, that Ghiberti 
and Donatello had brought into vogue. The account of bronze 
casting in chapter four is one of the most interesting in the 
whole treatise, and the descriptions are in the main clear and 
consistent. Illustrations have been introduced here from the 
article on the subject in the French Encyclopddie of the 
eighteenth century, where is an account of the processes used 
in 1699 for casting in one piece Girardon's colossal equestrian 
statue of Louis XIV for the Place Vendome in Paris. A 
chapter on die-sinking for medals is followed by one on 
modelled plaster work, for this material is dealt with in all 
the three sections of the Introduction; while sculpture in wood 
forms the subject of the concluding chapter, in which there 
is a curious notice of an otherwise unknown- French artist, 
who executed at Florence a statue of S. Rocco which may 
still be seen in the church of the Annunziata. In various 
places of this ' Introduction ' to Sculpture questions of general 


aesthetic interest are brought forward, and some of these are 
discussed in the commentary at its close. 

Of the three ' Introductions ' that on Painting is the longest 
and deals with the greatest variety of topics. After a pre- 
liminary chapter in which Vasari shows that he regards the 
art with the eyes of a Florentine frescoist, he gives a practical 
account of different methods of executing drawings and 
cartoons, and of transferring the lines of the cartoon to the 
fresh plaster of the wall, on which the fresco painter is to 
work. A chapter on colouring in mural pictures leads on to 
the account of the fresco process. As Vasari was in this an 
expert, his description and appreciation of the process form 
one of the most valuable parts of the treatise. He is 
enthusiastic in his praise of the method, which he calls the 
most masterly and most beautiful of all, on account of its 
directness and rapidity. Tempera painting on panel or on 
dry plaster is next discussed, and then follows a notice of 
oil painting on panel or canvas. The statement here made 
by Vasari that oil painting was invented by van Eyck is the 
earliest enunciation of a dogma that has given rise in recent 
times to a large amount of controversial writing. He goes 
on next to treat of the right method of mural painting in the 
oil medium, and in this last connection Vasari gives us the 
recipe he had finally adopted after years of experiment, and 
employed for preparing walls for the application of oil paint 
in the Palazzo Vecchio at Florence. The use of oil paint on 
a ground of slate or other kinds of stone furnishes matter for 
another chapter. 

With chapter eleven begins what we may regard as a second 
division of this ' Introduction,' in which various processes of 
the decorative arts are grouped together under the head of 
Painting, on the ground of the pictorial eifects produced by 
their means. Decorative painting, in the usual sense, is first 
described as executed in monochrome for permanence on the 
fa9ades of buildings, or for temporary purposes on triumphal 
arches and similar structures ; and then follows a chapter on 
what is known as ' Sgraffito ' work, or decoration in plaster 
of two colours, especially valuable as the first statement of 
the method and aim of this process, which had been evolved 


from p&te-sur-pdte pottery not long before Vasari's time. 
• Grotesques ' in modelled and stamped plaster are next 
described, and the uses of colour in various ways in connection 
with them are noticed, though with tantalizing brevity. 
Recipes for gilding follow, and then with a treatment of glass 
mosaic we pass on to a discussion of eight different kinds of 
decorative work, which interest Vasari chiefly because of 
their pictorial possibilities. Of glass mosaic, while he gives 
very good advice about the sort of design suitable for it, he 
says that it must be so executed as to look like painting and 
not like inlaid work. Some, he says, are so clever that they 
make it resemble fresco. Floor mosaics in coloured marbles 
are to appear exactly like a flat picture; works in tarsia, or 
wood inlays, are dismissed because they cannot do more than 
counterfeit painting without equalling it; stained glass 
windows, on the other hand, are lauded because they can be 
carried to the same perfection as fine pictures on panel. 
Enamel is noticed because it is of the nature of picture-work, 
and even damascening on metal ' partakes of the nature both 
of sculpture and of painting.' Lastly wood-engraving is only 
described under the form of the Chiaroscuri, or shaded prints, 
introduced early in the sixteenth century, though W. J. Linton 
in his work The Masters of Wood Engraving regards these as 
merely aping drawings, and hardly coming under the engraver's 
art at all ! 
\ To return for a moment in concluding to a comparison already 
drawn, the contrast is very significant between Vasari's attitude 
towards these decorative processes and that of the mediaeval 
writer Theophilus. Throughout his treatise Theophilus hardly 
says anything about design, or what is to be represented 
in the various materials. It is the materials themselves that 
are his concern, and the end before his eyes is the effect of 
beauty and sumptuousness in colour and texture that their 
skilful manipulation will secure, '^o Vasari these materials 
are chiefly of importance as producing something of the effect 
of painting, and though he deals with them and their manipu- 
lation from the technical point of view, the vision of the 
completed result as a picture hovers always before his eyes. 
In this Vasari was only following in his theoretical treatment 


t he actual facts of artistic development in his tim es. Since 
the heginnTng- nf the Rpn"^issanrp p eriod all the" forms n f 
inriiistrial art whir.h he Hpsr.rihes ha d been g-radually losing - 
t he purely decorative character which belong-ed to them in 
th e mediaeval epoch, and were beinpr hurried alon g- at tji e 
c hariot wheels of the triumphant art of painting: . This is o ne 
nf the two Hanfrprs to which these form s of art are a lway s 
subject. The naturalism in desig nj which is encouraged by 
the popularity of the painter's art on its representative side, 
is as much opposed to their true genius as is the mo dern 
svst£m.„of m echanical production^ .which_depriyes_them_of the 
char m thev owe to the touch of the crafts man's personalit y. 
History brought it about that in the century after Vasari these 
arts were in a measure rescued from the too great predominance 
of the pictorial element, though they were subjected at the 
same time to the other unfavourable influence just hinted at. 
Italy, from which the artistic Renaissance had spread to other 
lands, ceased in the seventeenth century to be the main centre 
of production or of inspiration for the decorative arts, which 
rather found their home in Paris, where they were organized 
and encouraged as part of the state system. The Manufacture 
des Meuhles de la Couronne, a creation of Louis XIV 's 
minister Colbert, which had its headquarters at the Hotel 
des Gobelins and the Savonnerie, was a manufactory of 
decorative work of almost every kind and in the most 
varied materials. That this work, judged on an aesthetic 
standard, was cold and formal, and wanting in the breath 
of life which plays about all the productions of the mediaeval 
workshop, was an inevitable consequence of its systema- 
tized official character and of its environment. The lover 
of art will take more real pleasure in the output of the 
old-fashioned and more personal English craftsmanship of the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, than in the artistic glories 
of the French state factories under the Ancien Rdgime. This 
native British craftsmanship was however struck into inanition 
a century ago by the apparition of machinery; and the result 
of half-a-century of the new industrial era was the Great 

t he gr eatest collection qf__artistic failures that the vrorld_ has 


gvf-r hRhpjH. In consequence agencies were then set on foot, 
and engineered by the Science and Art Department, to improve 
the artistic quality of industrial products, but unfortunately 
these were based on principles not wholly sound. The 
shibboleths ' Historic Ornament ' and ' Applied Ornament ' 
covered the desponding view that the decorative arts were 
dead, and that enrichment must henceforth not be a living 
thing, the concomitant and even the product of the work itself, 
but a dead or ' historic ' thing, that might be procured from 
books or museums and then ' applied ' as an afterthought to 
whatever was to be made a ' work of art. ' The results of 
this system were not encouraging, and led to the revival of 
mediaeval ideas, which, embodied in the magnetic personality 
of William Morris, have done .much to effect a real, though 
as yet not far-reaching artistic revival. 

Thf firgt prinriplp lifrp is tn rUsrm'ragp nnrlnp naturalispl 

in ornamental|J- the riernrativ p, arts from 
the, inflijpnf'p nf pfilpting,, g|p d attaching them rather to the art s 
of constructioa._u nder the beneficent control of which they did 
so well in the middle ages. The next principle, which is equally 
important, is to foster the personal element in decorative work, 
but at the s ame time to prevent individuality from becomi ng 
s elf-asser tive and running into vagaries, by insisting on the 
vital connection of ornament with material and technique. For 
the worker to ornament a thing properly he must either have 
made it or at any rate be in intimate touch with the processes 
of fabrication, out of which the decorative treatment should 
grow. The fact that the more advanced Schools of Art in our 
own country, such as that at Birmingham, regard as essential 
parts of their equipment the range of workshops where 
technical processes are explained and studied, is an encouraging 
sign, and this return from the drawing-board and the book 
to the bench and the tool gives an additional practical value 
to the older treatises on the technique of the arts, of which 
^ Vasari's Introduction is one. 




Of the diflferent kinds of Stone which are used by Architects for 
ornamental details, and in Sculpture for Statues ; that is, Of Porphyry, 
Serpentine, CipoUaccio, Breccia, Granites, Paragon or Test-stone, 
Transparent Marbles, White Marbles and Veined Marbles, CipoUini, 
Saligni, Campanini, Travertine, Slate, Peperigno, Ischia Stone, 
Pietra Serena and Pietra Forte. 

§ I. The author's object in the Discussion of 

How great is the utility of Arciiitecture it does not fall 
to me to tell, since the subject has been treated at length 
and most carefully by many writers. For this reason, 
leaving on one side the limes, sands, wood, iron armatures, 
mode of preparing the foundations, as well as everything 
else that is used in a building; disregarding also the 
questions of water and localities and sites, already enlarged 
on by Vitruvius ^ and by our own Leon Battista Alberti,^ 

^Before Vasari published his Lives, at least eight editions of Vitruvius had 
appeared. The Editio Princeps, ' curante Jo. Sulpitio Verulano,' is believed to 
have been issued at Rome about i486, and in 1496 and 1497 reprints were pub- 
lished at Florence and at Venice. In 151 1 appeared the important edition, with 
emendations and illustrations, by the famous architect Fra Giocondo of Verona, 
and this was reprinted in the Giunta edition at Florence in 1513. Other editions 
saw the light in 1522, 1523, 1543, and 1550. An Italian translation was published 
in 1521, a French one in 1547, and in 1548 one in German. The reverence of the 
architects of the Renaissance for Vitruvius was unbounded, and Michelangelo is 
said to have remarked that if a man could draw he would be able by the help of 
Vitruvius to become a good architect. 

" Leon Battista Albert! shares with Brunelleschi the distinction of representing in 
its highest form the artistic culture of the early age of Humanism. His principal 


I shall only discuss, for the use of our artificers and for 
whoever likes to know, the essential qualities of buildings, 
and in what proportions they should be put together and 
of what parts composed in order to obtain that graceful 
beauty that is desired. In short, I shall collect all that 
seems to me necessary for the purpose in view. 

§2. Of the working of hard stones, and first of Porphyry. 

In order that the great difficulty of working very hard 
and compact stones may be clearly understood, we shall 
treat distinctly but briefly of every variety which our 
workmen handle, and first of porphyry.^ This is a red 
stone, with minute white specks, brought into Italy from 
Egypt, where it is generally believed that the stone when 
quarried is softer than it is after it has been exposed to 
rain, frost and sunshine; because all these influences make 
it harder and more difficult to work.* Of this stone 
numberless works are to be seen, some of them shaped 
with the chisel, some sawn into shape, and some again 

work Di Re Aedificatoria, or, as it is also called, De Architedura, was published 
after his death, in 1485. It is divided, like the work of Vitruvius, into ten books, 
and is an exceedingly comprehensive treatise on the architectural art both in theory 
and practice, and on the position of architecture in relation to civilization and to 
society at large. It is written in a noble and elevated style, and, as the title 
implies, in I^atin. It was translated into Italian by Bartoli and into English by 
J. Leoni (three volumes, folio, 1726). Alberti also wrote shorter tracts on 
Sculpture and Painting, as well as other works of a less specially artistic order. 

' See Note on ' Porphyry and Porphyry Quarries ' at the close of the ' Intro- 
duction' to Architecture, postea, p. loi, and A on the Frontispiece, which gives 
representations in colour of the stones Vasari mentions in these sections, 
omitting those familiarly known. 

* If a stone be comparatively soft when quarried and become harder after 
exposure to the air, this is due to the elimination in the air of moisture that it 
held when in the earth. In a dry climate like that of Egypt there is little or no 
moisture for stones to hold, and the Egyptian porphyry, Mr. W. Brindley reports, 
is quite as hard when freshly quarried as after exposure. Vasari repeats this 
remark when he is dealing with granite in §6, postea, p. 41. He has derived 
it from Alberti, who in De Architedura, bk. 11, ch. vii, notices perfectly 
correctly that the question is one of the comparative amount of moisture in the 


gradually worked up by means of wheels and emery. 
There are many different examples in divers places; for 
instance, square, round, and other pieces smoothed for 
pavements, statues for edifices, a great number of columns 
large and small, and fountains with various masks, all 
carved with the greatest care. There are also sarcophagi 
still extant, with figures in low and half relief, laboriously 
wrought, as at the temple of Bacchus,^ outside Rome, by 
Sant' Agnese, where is said to be the sarcophagus of Santa 
Costanza, daughter of the Emperor Constantine, on which 
are carved many figures of children with grapes and vine- 
leaves, that testify how great was his labour who worked 
them in a stone so hard. There is another example in 
an urn, near to the door known as the Porta Santa in 
San Giovanni in Laterano, which is decorated with scenes 
containing a great number of figures.^ There is also in 
the piazza della Ritonda a very beautiful urn made for 
sepulchral purposes ^ that is worked with great care and 

^ ' Temple of Bacchus ' was the name given at the Renaissance to the memorial 
chapel containing the tomb of Constantia, daughter of Constantine the Great, 
on the Via Nomentana close to S. Agnese, and now known as S. Costanza. 
The name was suggested by the mosaics with vintage scenes on the barrel vault 
of the aisle, which are of great interest and beauty. In Vasari's time this still 
contained the porphyry sarcophagus where Constantia was laid, and of this he 
goes on to speak. In 1 788 Pius VI transferred it to his new Sala a Croce Greca 
in the Vatican, where it now stands. 

'This is the second of the two vast cubical porphyry sarcophagi in the Croce 
Greca, and it is believed that it served once to contain the mortal remains 
of Helena, mother of Constantine. It is much finer in execution than the 
other, and exhibits a large number of figures in high relief, though incoherently 
composed. The subject may be the victories of Constantine. It was originally in 
the monument called 'Torre Pignattara,' the supposed mausoleum of Helena 
on the Via Labicana, and was transported in the twelfth century by 
Anastatius IV to the Lateran, whence Pius VI had it transferred to the Vatican. 
The restoration of these huge sarcophagi cost an immense amount in money and 
time. Massi (Museo Pio-Clementino, Roma, 1846, p. 157) states that the second 
one absorbed the labour of twenty-five artificers, who worked at it day and night 
for the space of nine years. Strzygowski, Orient oder Rom, igoi, notices the 

' Urns, or, as the Italians called them, ' conche,' of porphyry, basalt, granite 
and marble existed in great abundance in the Roman Thermae where they were 


diligence. It is of extremely graceful and beautiful form, 
and is very different from the others. In the house of 
Egizio and of Fabio Sasso ^ there used to be a seated 
figure, measuring three and a half braccia, preserved to 
our days with the remains of the other statues in. the 
Casa Farnese.^ In the courtyard also of the Casa la 
Valle,^" over a window, is a she- wolf most excellently 
sculptured, ^1 and, in the garden of the same house, the 

used for bathing purposes. From the seventh century onwards the Christians 
adopted these for sepulchral use and placed them in the churches, where many 
of them are still to be seen (Lanciani, Storia degli Scavi, Roma, 1902, 
I, 3, and Marangoni, Delle Cose Gentilesche, etc., Roma, 1744). Hence Vasari 
speaks of the porphyry urn of the Piazza della Rotonda (the Pantheon) as of 
sepulchral origin, and it was indeed rumoured to have held the ashes of Agrippa, 
and to have stood once on the apex of the pediment of the Pantheon portico. It 
was however an ancient bath vessel, and was found when Eugenius IV, 1431-39, 
first excavated and paved the piazza in front of the Pantheon. It was placed with 
two Egyptian lions in front of the portico, where it may be seen in the view of the 
Pjazza della Rotonda in G. F. Falda's Vedute delle Fabbriche, etc., of 1665. 
Clement XII, 1730-40, who was a Corsini, had it transported for his own 
sepulchre to the Corsini chapel in the Lateran, where it now stands, with a 
modern cover. Vasari evidently admired this urn, and he mentions it again in the 
life of Antonio Rossellino, where he says of the sarcophagus of the monument of 
the Cardinal of Portugal in S. Miniato, ' La cassa tiene il garbo di quella di 
porfido che e in Roma sulla piazza della Ritonda.' (Opere, ed. Milanesi, 
HI, 95.) See Lanciani, // Pantheon, etc., Prima Relazione, Roma, 1882, 
p. 15, where the older authorities are quoted. Of all the bath vases 
of this kind now visible in Rome, tjie finest known to the writers is the 
urn of green porphyry, a rare and beautiful stone, behind the high altar of 
S. Nicola in Carcere. It is nearly six ft. long, and on each side has two Medusa 
heads in relief worked in the same piece, with the usual lion's head on one side 
at the bottom for egress of water. The workmanship is superb. It may be 
noted that the existing baptismal font in St. Peter's, in the first chapel on the 
left on entering, is the cover of the porphyry sarcophagus of Hadrian turned 
upside down. It measures 13 ft. in length by 6 ft. in width. 

* In chapter vi of the ' Introduction ' to Architecture, postea, p. 93, Vasari writes 
of the 'casadi Messer Egidio et Fabio Sasso' as being 'in Parione.' See Note 
at the end of the ' Introduction ' to Architecture on ' The Sassi, della Valle, and 
other Collections of Antiques of the early part of the sixteenth century,' postea, 
p. 102 f. 

" This is the ' Apollo ' at Naples, No. 6281. See Note as above. 

'"^ See Note above mentioned. 

" Now lost. 


two prisoners bound, each four braccia in lieight,^^ 
executed in this same porphyry by the ancients with 
extraordinary skill. These works are lavishly praised 
to-day by all skilled persons, knowing, as they do, the 
difficulty the workers had in executing them owing to 
the hardness of the stone. 

In our day stone of this sort is never wrought to perfec- 
tion, ^^ because our artificers have lost the art of tempering 
the chisels and other instruments for working them. It is 
true that they can still, with the help of emery, saw drums 
of columns into slices, and cut other pieces to be arranged 
in patterns for floors, and make various other ornaments 
for buildings. The porphyry is reduced little by little by 
means of a copper saw, without teeth, drawn backwards 
and forwards between two men, which, with the aid of 
emery reduced to powder, and kept constantly wet with 
water, finally cuts its way through the stone. 1* Although 
at different times many ingenious attempts have been made 
to find out the method of working porphyry used by the 
ancients,^^ all have been in vain, and Leon Battista 

'^ Now in the Boboli Gardens at Florence. See Note on the Sassi, etc. , Collections. 

'^ See Note on ' The Revival of Sculpture in Porphyry,' postea, p. 1 10 f. 

^* Reciprocating saws of the kind Vasari mentions, mostly of soft steel or iron, 
and also circular saws, are in use at the present day, the abiasives being emery, or 
a new material called ' carborundum. ' This consists in minute crystals of intense 
hardness gained by fusing by an electric current a mixture of clay and similar 
substances. See The Times, Engineering Supplement, Oct. 31, 1906. 

^' It needs hardly to be said that the ancients had no ' secrets ' such as Vasari 
hints at. Mr. W. Brindley believes that the antique methods of quarrying and 
working hard stones were ' precisely the same as our own were until a few years 
ago,' that is to say that the blocks were detached from the quarry and split with 
metal wedges, dressed roughly to shape with large and small picks, and ' rubbed 
down with flat stone rubbers and sand, then polished with bronze or copper 
rubbers with emery powder' [Transactions, R.I.B.A., 1888, p. 25). At a very 
early date in Egyptian history, even before the dynastic period, the hardest stones 
(not excepting porphyry) were successfully manipulated, and vases and bowls of 
these materials cut with exquisite precision. Professor Flinders Petrie found 
evidence that at the epoch of the great pyramids tubular drills and bronze saws 
set with gem-stones (corundum) were employed by the Egyptians in hollowing 
basalt sarcophagi and cutting the harder stones [The Pyramids and Temples of 
Ghizeh, London, 1883, p. 173 f.). There is however no evidence of the use of these 


Alberti, the first to make experiments therein not how- 
ever in things of great- moment, did not find, among the 
many tempering-baths that he put to the test, any that 
answered better than goats' blood; because, though in 
the working it removed but little of that hardest of stones 
and was always striking sparks of fire, it served him 
nevertheless so far as to enable him to have carved, in 
the threshold of the principal door of Santa Maria Novella 
in Florence, the eighteen antique letters, very large and 
well proportioned, which are seen on the front of the step, 
in a piece of porphyry. These letters form the words 
Bernardo Oricellario.^'' And because the edge of the 
chisel did not suit for squaring the corners, or giving 

advanced appliances by the Greeks or Romans. It must not be forgotten that 
even before the age of metals the neolithic artificers of western Europe could not 
only cut and bore, but also ornament with patterns, stone hammer-heads of the 
most intractable materials, with the aid only of pieces of wood twirled or rubbed 
on the place and plentifully fed with sand and water. The stone axe- and hammer- 
heads so common in pre-historic collections were bored with tubular drills, made 
probably from reeds, which cut out a solid core. Such cores can still be seen in 
partly-pierced hammer-heads in the Museum at Stockholm, and elsewhere. 

'^ Fig. I shows the inscription of which Vasari writes and the situation of it on 
the riser of the step is seen on Plate II. The porphyry slab is 3 ft. 5 in. long and 
5j in. high. The tongues at the ends are in separate pieces. The letters, 
nineteen not eighteen in number, are close upon 2 in. in height and are cleanly 
cut with V-shaped incisions. The illustration shows the form of the letters which 
Vasari justly praises. The name ' Oricellario ' or -us was derived by the dis- 
tinguished Florentine family that bore it from the plant Oricello, orchil, which 
was employed for making a beautiful purple dye, from the importation of which 
from the Levant the family gained wealth and importance. The shortened 
popular form of the name ' Rucellai ' is that by which the family is familiarly 
known. Giovanni Rucellai gave a commission to Alberti to complete the fafade 
of S. Maria Novella, which was carried out by 1470. The Bernardo Rucellai of 
the inscription, the son of Giovanni, was known as a historian, and owned the 
gardens where the Platonic Academy had at one time its place of meeting. 
Fineschi, in his Forestiero htruito in S. Maria Novella, Firenze, 1790, says that 
Bernardo desired to be buried in front of the church and had the inscription cut 
for sepulchral purposes. The existence of sepulchral ' aj^ ' of distinguished 
Florentine families at the front of the church makes this seem likely, and in this 
case the lettering would be after Alberti's time, though as Fineschi believes, the 
earliest existing work of the kind in hard stone at Florence. See Rev. J. Wood 
Brown, 6'. Maria Novella, Edinburgh, 1902, p. 114. 


the necessary polish and finish, he had a little revolving 
drill made, with a handle like a spit, which was easily 
worked by placing the said handle against the chest, and 
putting the hands into the crank in order to turn it.^^ At 
the working end, instead of a chisel or bit, he fixed copper 
discs, larger or smaller according to need, and these, well 
sprinkled with emery, gradually reduced and smoothed 
the stone, producing a fine surface and finishing the 
corners, the drill all the while being dexterously twirled 
by the hand. But all this effort cost so much time, that 
Leon Battista lost heart, and did not put his hand to 
anything else, either in the way of statues, or vases, or 
other delicate work. Others, afterwards, who set them- 
selves to smoothing stones and restoring columns by the 

same special process, have done it in this way. They 
make for the purpose large and heavy hammers, with the 
points of steel, keenly tempered with goats' blood, and 
worked in the manner of diamond points ; with these they 
carefully tap on the porphyry, and ' scabbling ' it, or 
working it down, little by little the best way they can, 
finally reduce it, with much time and trouble, to the round 
or the flat, as the workman chooses, — not however to 
the form of statues, because of this we have lost the 
art — and they polish it with emery and leather, scouring 
it till there comes a lustre very clear and well finished. 

Now although every day refinements are being made 
on human inventions, and new things enquired into, yet 
even the moderns, who from time to time have tried 
fresh methods of carving porphyry, various tempering- 
baths, and very carefully refined steels, have, as was said 
above, up till recent years laboured in vain. Thus in 

"After the fashion of an ordinary carpenter's ' brace.' 


the year 1553 Pope Julius III, having been presented by 
Signer Ascanio Colonna ^^ with a very handsome antique 
porphyry basin, measuring seven braccia across, ordered 
it to be restored, for some pieces were missing, that it 
might adorn his vineyard : the work was undertaken, 
and many things tried by the advice of Michelagnolo 
Buonarroti and of other excellent masters, but after a 
great length of time the enterprise was despaired of, chiefly 
because it was found impossible to preserve some of the 
arrises, a matter essential to the undertaking : Michel- 
agnolo, moreover, even though accustomed to the hardness 
of stones, gave up the attempt, as did all the others, and 
nothing more was done. 

At last, since no other thing in our days was lacking 
to the perfection of our arts, except the method of 
satisfactorily working porphyry, that not even this should 
still be to seek, it was rediscovered in the following 
manner. In the year 1555, Duke Cosimo, wishing 
to erect a fountain of remarkable beauty in the court 
of his principal palace in Florence, had excellent 
water led there from the Pitti Palace and Garden, and 
ordered a basin with its pedestal to be made for the said 
fountain from some large pieces of porphyry found among 
broken fragments. To make the working of it more easy 
to the master, he caused an extract to be distilled, from 
an herb, the name of which is unknown to me, and this 
extract had such virtue, that red-hot tools when plunged 
into it acquired the hardest possible temper. With the 
aid of this process then, Francesco del Tadda, the carver 
of Fiesole,^^ executed after my design the basin of the 
said fountain, which is two and a half braccia in 
diameter,^" together with its pedestal, just as it may be 

''See Note on 'The Porphyry Tazza of the Sala Rotonda of the Vatican,' at the 
close of the ' Introduction ' to Architecture, postea, p. io8. 

"See Note at the end of the ' Introduction' to Architecture, postea, p. liof., 
on ' Francesco del Tadda and, the Revival of Sculpture in Porphyry.' 

^^ About 4 ft. 9 in. In a letter of May 1557 in Gaye, Carteggio, 11, 419, Vasari 
mentions the work as nearly finished. 

Tlatf, II 

Showing the position of the inscribed porphj-ry tablet on the riser oi the step 


seen to-day in the above-named palace.^^ Tadda, judging 
that the secret imparted to him by the duke was very 
precious, set himself to put it to the test by carving some- 
thing, and he has succeeded so well that in a short time 
he has made, in three ovals, life-size portraits in half-relief 
of Duke Cosimo and of the duchess Leonora, and a head 
of Christ, executed so perfectly that the hair and beard, 
most difficult to reproduce in carving, are finished in a 
manner equal to that of the ancients. The Duke was 
talking one day of these works with Michelagnolo-^^ when 
his Excellency was in Rome, and Buonarroti would not 
believe in them ; therefore, by the Duke's order, I sent 
the head of Christ to Rome where it was seen by 
Michelagnolo with great wonder, who praised it highly 
and rejoiced greatly to see the sculpture of our time 
enriched by this rare gift, which until our day had been 
searched for in vain. Tadda has rece^ntly finished the 
head of the elder Cosimo de' Medici ^3 in an oval, like 
those mentioned above, and he has executed and continues 
to execute many other similar works. " 

All that remains to be said of porphyry is that, because 
the quarries are now lost to knowledge,^* it is necessary 
to make use of what is left of it in the form of ancient 
fragments, drums of columns and other pieces; and that 

"^ The palace in question is the well-known Palazzo Vecchio at Florence, which 
was adapted for the Grand-ducal residence largely by Vasari himself under the 
Grand Dukes Cosimo and his successor Francesco. The fountain is the one at 
present in the courtyard of the palace, carrying the beautiful bronze figure of a boy 
with a. dolphin, by Verrocchio. This 'putto' was brought in from the famous 
Medicean Villa at Careggi, the seat of the Platonic Academy, for the purpose of 
completing the fountain of which Vasari here gives an account. The porphyry 
work, both in design and execution, is worthy of the beautiful bronze that surmounts 
it. The basin rests on a well-turned dwarf pillar of porphyry and this on a square 
base of the same material. The surfaces are true and the arrises sharp, and the 
whole is carried out in a workmanlike manner, and by no means betrays a 
' prentice hand.' 

^ See Vasari's Life of Michelangelo, Qpere, ed. Milanesi, vii, 260. 

^That is Cosimo 'Pater Patriae,' who died at Careggi in 1464. The portrait 
in question is shown on Plate III. For what is known about this and other 
works by Francesco del Tadda, see postea, p. 113 f. 

"See Note on ' Porphyry and Porphyry Quarries,' postea, p. loi. 



in consequence he who works in porphyry must ascertain 
whether or not it has been subjected to the action of fire, 
because if it have, although it does not completely lose 
its colour, nor crumble away, it lacks much of its natural 
vividness and never takes so good a polish as when it 
has not been so subjected; and, what is worse, it easily 
fractures in the working. It is also worth knowing, as 
regards the nature of porphyry, that, if put into the 
furnace, it does not burn away (non si cuoce),^^ nor allow 
other stones round it to be thoroughly burnt; indeed, as 
to itself, it grows raw (incrudelisce) as is shown in the 
two columns the men of Pisa gave to the Florentines 
in the year 1117 after the acquisition of Majorca. These 
columns now stand at the principal door of the church 
of San Giovanni ; they are colourless and not very well 
polished in consequence of having passed through fire, 
as Giovanni Villani relates in his history .^^ 

^^ This remark is evidently derived by Vasari from Leon Battista Albert!, who 
writes as follows in De Re Aedificatoria, Lib. 11, 'At nos de porphirite lapide 
compertum habemus non modo flammis non excoqui, verum et contigua quaeque 
circumhereant saxa intra fornacem reddere ut ignibus ne quidquam satis exquo- 
quantiir.' The sense of 'excoqui' in this passage, and of Vasari's 'cuocer,' is 
somewhat obscure, but can be interpreted by reference to old writings on stones, 
in which great importance is given to their comparative power of resistance to 
fire. See Pliny, Hist. Nat., xxxvi, 22, etc., etc. Theophrastus, Ilepi AWui', §4, 
has the following : ' Stones have many special properties ... for some are con- 
sumed by fire and others resist it . . . and in respect of the action of the 
fire and the burning they show many differences ..." The ' excoqui ' of Alberti 
probably refers to the resistance of porphyry to the fire as compared with the 
submission to it of stones like limestone, which are ' burnt out ' or calcined by the 
heat. Vasari's ' non si cuoce ' is net an adequate translation of Alberti's word 
'excoqui.' With a blast heat porphyry fuses to a sort of obsidian or slag, but 
a moderate heat only causes it to lose its fine purple hue and become grey. This 
is the ' rawness ' implied in Vasari's word ' incrudelisce.' To us rawness suggests 
raw meat which is redder in colour than cooked, but the Italians, who are not 
great meat eaters, would have in their minds the action of fire on cakes and 
similar comestibles that darken when baked, and an Italian artist would think too 
of the action of fire on clay, ' che viene rossa quando ella ^ cotta ' as he says 
in chapter xxv of the 'Introduction' to Painting. See Frontispiece, where Al, 
compared with A, shows the e6fect of fire on the stone . 

^The two porphyry columns, that stand one on each side of Ghiberti's Old 
Testament gates at the eastern door of the Baptistry of Florence, serve to point 

Plate III 



§ 3. 0/ Serpentine. 

After porphyry we come to serpentine, ^^ which is a 
green stone, rather dark, with little crosses long and 
yellowish all through its texture. The artificers busy 
themselves with making columns and slabs for pavements 
in edifices from it, in the same way as from porphyry. 
It is never seen carved into figures, although it is very 

a moral about the untrustworthiness of popular sayings. When these apply to 
monuments it usually happens that the monument itself hopelessly discredits the 
saying. The porphyry columns in question are perfectly normal in colour and 
show no recognizable trace of the action of fire. Villani (Chronicle, bk. IV, ch. 31) 
says of these columns ' The Pisani sent them to Florence covered with scarlet 
cloth, and some said that before they sent them they put them in the fire for envy.' 
If we rationalize a little we can imagine that the scarlet cloth, the use of which by 
the Pisans in connection with porphyry shows a most lamentable absence of taste 
in colour, would at first sight seem to take the colour out of the porphyry and 
make it look grey through contrast. Hence may have arisen the impression which 
gave rise to the saying. Boccaccio, in his commentary on the passage in Dante 
(Inferno, xv, 67), in which the ' blindness ' of the Florentines is referred to, 
notices this aflfair of the columns as one explanation of this accusation against 
his countrymen. 

"On the subject of serpentine some misapprehension exists. Mineralogists 
apply the term to a soft stone of a green hue with long curling markings through 
it, which in their form suggest lacertine creatures and account for the name of the 
stone. It derives its colour from the presence of a large percentage of manganese 
in union with silica, and contains twelve or so per cent, of water. A penknife 
scores it easily. The ' Verde di Prato,' a dark stone used in bands on Tuscan 
buildings, of which there is question in a subsequent section, postea, p. 43, is a 
species of true serpentine. 

On the other hand the word ' serpentine ' is in common use for a dark green 
stone of quite a different kind, that occurs very commonly in ancient Roman 
tesselated pavements, and it is this false serpentine that Vasari has in view. It is 
very hard indeed, and a penknife does not mark it. Professor Bonney describes it 
as ' a somewhat altered porphyritic basalt,' and it is full of scattered crystals of a 
paler green composed of plagioclasic felspar. These crystals average about the 
size of grains of maize and they sometimes cross each other, thus justifying Vasari's 
description of them. A specimen is B, on the Frontispiece. This stone was found 
in Egypt, and it is probably the ' Augustan ' and ' Tiberian ' stone mentioned by 
Pliny, Hist. Nat., xxxvi, 7. See Transactions, R.I.B.A., 1888, p. 9. The 
chief quarry of it however was in the Peloponnesus to the south of Sparta, 
and the produce of this is called by Pliny, loc. cit., ' Lacedaemonium viride.' It 
should be noted that 'Verde Antico,' a green marble of which the chief quarries 
are in Thessaly, is distinct from both the true and the false ' serpentine.' 


often used for the bases of columns, the pedestals ot 
tables, and other works of a ruder kind. Though this 
sort of stone is liable to fracture, and is harder than 
porphyry, it is sweeter to work and involves less labour. 
Serpentine is quarried in Egypt and Greece and the sound 
pieces are not very large ; consequently no work of greater 
dimensions than three braccia in any direction is ever 
seen of serpentine, and such works as exist are slabs 
and pieces of pavement, A few columns are found also 
but not very massive nor thick, as well as some masks and 
sculptured brackets, but figures never. This stone is 
worked in the same manner as porphyry. 

§ 4. Of Cipollaccio. 
Softer than serpentine is cipollaccio,^^ a stone quarried 
in various places; it is of a crude yellowish green colour 
and has within it some square black marks, large and 
small, and also biggish white marks. Of this material 
one may see in various places columns both massive and 
slender, as well as doors and other ornaments, but not 
figures. There is a fountain of this stone in Rome in the 
Belvedere, that is to say a niche in a corner of the garden 
where are the statues of the Nile and of the Tiber ; ^9 Pope 
Clement VII had this niche made, after a design by 
Michelagnolo,^° to adorn the statue of a river god that 

^ Cipollaccio. It is not clear what is the difference, if any exist, between the 
stone thus called and the ' CipoUino ' which Vasari discusses in a later section, 
postea, p. 49. The latter is a name in universal employment, but the term 
'Cipollaccio' is not known to Cavaliere Marchionni, the courteous Director of the 
Florentine State Manufactory of Mosaics, nor is it recognized at Carrara. On the 
other hand it is given as the name of a marble in Tomaseo's Dhionario (though 
probably only on the strength of this mention in Vasari) and a stone worker at 
Settignano claimed to know and use the word. On the material see the Note on 
' Cipollino,' postea, p. 49. The terminations '-accio' and '-ino' are dear to 
the Florentines — Masflcno and tAasolino will occur to everyone. 

^ This is the ' Cortile di Belvedere ' where the Laocoon and Apollo Belvedere 
are located. See Note 30. 

^^ On Michelangelo's niche and fountain see the Note on ' The Cortile of the 
Belvedere in the Vatican in the sixteenth century,' at the end of the 'Introduction' 
to Architecture, postea, p. 115. The ' river god ' is the ' Tigris ' of the Vatican. 


it might look very beautiful in this setting made in 
imitation of natural rocks, as indeed it actually does. 
Cipollaccio is also sawn into panels, round and oval, and 
into similar pieces which, when arranged with other stones 
in pavements and other flat surfaces, make lovely com- 
positions. It takes a polish like porphyry and serpentine 
and is sawn in the same manner. Numberless pieces of 
it are found in Rome, buried under the ruins; these come 
to light daily and thus of ancient things modern works 
are made, such as doors and other ornamental details, 
which, wherever placed, are decorative and very beautiful. 

§ 5. 0/ Breccia (' Mischio,' Conglomerate). 
Here is now another stone, called ' mischio ' (breccia), ^^ 
from the mixture of various stones coagulated together and 
made one by time and by the mordant action of water. It is 
found in abundance in several places, as in the mountains 
of Verona, in those of Carrara, and of Prato in Tuscany, 
and in the hills of the Impruneta in the neighbourhood 
of Florence.'^^ But the best and choicest breccias have 
been found, not long ago, at San Giusto at Monte Rantoli, 
five miles distant from Florence.^^ In this material Duke 
^psimo Jias_, commissioned me to decorate all the new 
rooms of the palace with doors and chimney pieces, and 

'^ Vasari's description of the variegated stones called breccias is clear and good. 
Corsi, Z)elk Pieire Antiche, Roma, 1845, p. 139, defines breccias as 'marbles 
formed of numerous fragments of other marbles either of one colour or of different 
colours, embedded in a calcareous cement.' The mineralogist distinguishes 
breccias from conglomerates by the fact that in the former the fragments embedded 
are angular, in the latter round like pebbles. The fragments need not be of 
marble. These breccias were greatly used at the Renaissance, as Vasari indicates, 
for the framing of doorways and for chimney pieces, but it may be questioned 
whether they are really suitable for such architectural use. For door jambs 
and similar constructive members a self-coloured stone, with its greater severity 
of effect, would be preferable. On the other hand, for panels and inlays and 
decorative uses generally, the variegated stones are quite in place. See C, D on 
the Frontispiece. 

'^See Note on 'Tuscan Marble Quarries ' postea, p. 119 f. 

'^S. Giusto, commonly called S. Giusto a Monte Martiri, lies by Monte 
Rantoli, between the valleys of the Ema and Greve, to the south of Florence. 


the effect is most beautiful. Also for the garden of the 
Pitti, very fine columns seven braccia high have been 
quarried from the same place, and I am astonished that 
in this stone such large pieces should be found free from 
flaws.^* Being of the nature of limestone, it takes a 
beautiful polish and in colour inclines to a reddish purple 
streaked with white and yellowish veins. But the finest 
examples of all are in Greece and Egypt,^^ where the 
stone is much harder than ours in Italy, and it is found 
in as many different colours as mother nature has delighted 
and still delights to produce in all perfection. In the 
breccias formed in this way one sees at Rome at the present 
day both ancient and modern works, such as columns, 
vases, fountains, door ornaments, and various inlays on 
buildings, as well as many pieces in the pavements. 
There are various sorts, of many colours; some draw to 
yellow and red, others to white and black, others again 
to grey and white speckled with red and veined with 
numerous colours; then there are certain reds, greens, 
blacks and whites which are oriental : and of this sort 
of stone the Duke has an^ntic[ue urn, four and a half 
braccia across, in his garden at the Pitti, a thing most 
precious, being as I said of oriental breccia very beautiful 
and extremely hard to work.^^ Such stones are all very 
hard, and exquisite in colour and quality, as is shown by 

^^ Breccia columns answering to this description are to be seen in the lower 
part of the Boboli Gardens to the west of the 'island basin' with John of 
Bologna's ' Oceanus.' 

^ The Egyptian breccia is found at Hamamat to the east of Luxor. It consists, 
Mr. Brindley writes, in rich-coloured silicious fragments cemented together, and 
is very difficult to work and to polish, 'owing to the cementing matrix being 
frequently harder than the boulders.' Its general colour is greenish and it is 
called sometimes ' Breccia Verde. ' The most important known work executed 
in this breccia is the grand sarcophagus of Nectanebes I, about 378 B.C., now in 
the British Museum. It is on the left in the large Hall a little beyond the 
Rosetta stone. Transactions, R.I.B.A., 1888, p. 24 ff. 

'^ Signor Cornish, the courteous castellan of the Royal Palace, believes this to 
be the urn that now serves as the basin of the fountain surmounted with a figure 
of the Arno, near the Annalessa gate of the Boboli Gardens. It has two masks 
carved on the front, as is common in antique conche of the kind. 


the two columns, twelve braccia high at the entrance of 
St. Peter's in Rome, which support the first arcades of 
the aisles, one on each side.^'' Of this stone, the kind 
which is found in the hills of Verona, is very much 
softer than the oriental; and in that place is quarried a 
sort which is reddish, and inclines towards a vetch 
colour.3^ All these kinds are worked easily in our days 
with the tempering-baths and the tools used for our own 
local stones, Windows, columns, fountains, pavements, 
door posts and mouldings are made of them, as is seen 
in Lombardy and indeed throughout Italy. 

§ 6. 0/ Granite. 

There is another sort of extremely hard stone, much 
coarser and speckled with black and white and sometimes 
with red, which, on account of its grain and consistency, 
is commonly called granite.^^ In Egypt it exists in solid 
masses of immense size that can be quarried in pieces 
incredibly long, such as are seen nowadays in Rome in 
obelisks, needles, pyramids, columns, and in those enor- 
mous vessels for baths which we have at San Pietro in 
Vincola, at San Salvadore del Lauro and at San Marco.*" 

'' On entering the porch or narthex of St. Peter's by the central archway, 
the visitor may note on each side of the external opening a column of breccia, 
or strictly speaking of ' pavonazzetto brecciato,' over twenty-five feet in height. 
They are worn, patched, and discoloured, and evidently come from some earlier 
building. It can be reasonably conjectured that these are the two columns to 
which Vasari refers, and that they were originally in the old basilica which was 
being replaced in Vasari's time by the existing structure. Vasari would see them 
in their original position forming part of the colonnade between nave and aisles, 
for the entrance part of the old Constantinian basilica was still standing in the 
sixteenth century, and the columns were only removed to their present position 
when Paul V constructed the existing fa9ade at the beginning of the century 

^ The familiar red Verona marble is not a true breccia, but a fossil marble. 

'' ' Granite ' is from the Italian ' granito,' which means the ' grained ' stone. 

^'The 'grandissimi vasi de' bagni,' to which Vasari here refers, are those vast 
granite bath-shaped urns, some twenty feet long, of which the best known is 
probably the specimen that stands by the obelisk in the centre of the amphi- 
theatre of the Boboli Gardens at Florence. This, with a fellow urn, that stands 


It is also seen in columns without number, which for 
hardness and compactness have had nothing to fear from 
fire or sword, so that time itself, that drives everything 
to ruin, not only has not destroyed them but has not even 
altered their colour. It was for this reason that the 
Egyptians made use of granite in the service of their dead, 
writing on these obelisks in their strange characters the 
lives of the great, to preserve the memory of their prowess 
and nobility. 

From Egypt there used also to come another variety 
of grey granite, where the black and white specks draw 
rather towards green. It is certainly very hard, not so 
hard however, but that our stonecutters, in the building 
of St. Peter's, have made use of the fragments they have 
found, in such a manner that by means of the temper of 
the tools at present adopted, they have reduced the columns 
and other pieces to the desired slenderness and have given 
them a polish equal to that of porphyry. 

Many parts of Italy are enriched with this grey granite, 
but the largest blocks found are in the island of Elba, 
where the Romans kept men continually employed in 
quarrying countless pieces of this rock.*^ Some of the 

not far off in the Piazzale della Meridiana, came from the Villa Medici at Rome, 
and they may have been seen in Rome by Vasari before they were placed in that 
collection. No such urns are now to be found in or about any of the three churches 
at Rome here mentioned by Vasari. Documents however, recently publislied in the 
first volume of Lanciani's Storia degli Scavi, pp. 3-5, show that there stood 
formerly in the Piazza S. Salvatore in Lauro, north west from the Piazza Navona, 
a ' conca maximae capacitatis,' to which Vasari no doubt refers. Two other such 
conchae were found in the Thermae of Agrippa, and one was placed by Paul II, 
1464-71, in the Piazza di S. Marco, which was then called 'Piazza della Conca di 
S. Marco,' while the other was located by Paul III (Farnese), 1534-49, in front 
of his palace. Cardinal Odoardo Farnese afterwards united the two and formed 
with them the two fountains now in the Piazza Farnese. Lanciani also mentions 
■^ ' conca di bigio in S. Pietro in Vinculis. ' There is a fine specimen, which may 
be one of those Vasari has mentioned, in front of the little church of S. Stefano at 
the back of St. Peter's. We wish cordially to thank Signor Cornish, of the 
Royal Palace, Florence, for information kindly given about the Boboli 

••i The quarries opened by the Romans in Elba are now practically abandoned. 


columns of the portico of the Ritonda are made of it, 
and they are very beautiful and of extraordinary size.*^ 
It is noticed that the stone when in the quarry is far 
softer and more easy to work than after it has lain 
exposed,*^ It is true that for the most part it must be 
worked with picks that have a point, like those used for 
porphyry, and at the other end a sharp edge like a toothed 
chisel.** From a piece of this granite which was detached 
from the mass, Duke Cosimo has hollowed out a round 
basin twelve braccia broad in every direction and a table 

The Catalogue to the Italian Section of the London International Exhibition of 
1862 speaks of the granites of Elba as 'but little used, although blocks and 
columns of almost any size may be had.' In the late mediaeval and Renaissance 
period however, the quarries of Elba were worked, and the granite columns of 
the Baptistry of Pisa were cut there in the twelfth century, while Cosimo I 
extracted thence the granite block out of which he cut the tazza of the Boboli 
Gardens mentioned by Vasari a few sentences further on. Jervis, I Tesori 
Soiterranei dell' Italia, Torino, 1889, p. 315, speaks of the remains of Roman 
quarrying works to be seen on the Island. He believes that the grey columns of 
the Pantheon (see Note infra) are Elban, and Cellini {Scultura, ch. vi) claims 
an Elban origin for the granite column of S. Trinita, Florence, which is certainly 
antique and of Roman provenance, see postea, p. 1 10 f. 

^ The portico of the Pantheon is now supported by sixteen monoliths of granite 
nearly 40 ft. high. Seven of these in the foremost row are of grey granite, the 
eighth (that at the north-east angle) and all those behind are of red granite. The 
present portico is a reconstruction by Hadrian in octostyle form of the original 
decastyle portico built by Agrippa. Agrippa's portico had columns of a grey 
granite called 'granito del foro,' because it is the same kind that is used for the 
columns of the Forum of Trajan (Basilica Ulpia). This according to Corsi, 
Delle Pietre Antiche, Roma, 1845, is Egyptian from Syene, the Lapis Psaronius 
of Pliny, and Professor Lanciani, who has kindly written in reply to our question 
on the subject, endorses this opinion, though Jervis, see above, thinks the grey 
Pantheon columns are Elban. When Hadrian reconstructed the portico, he added 
columns of red granite, which are admitted by all to be Egyptian. The two 
columns at the east of the present portico were brought in in the year 1666 
to fill gaps caused by the fall of the two Hadrianic ones. They came 
from the Baths of Nero and were found near S. Luigi dei Francesi. See 
postea, p. I28f. 

*'See Note 4, ante, p. 26. 

"The form of the pick Vasari seems to have in his mind is given in the 
sketch, C, Fig. 2, postea, p. 48. Among other tools figured in the illustration, 
A and B are some that are employed at this day in Egypt for the working 
of hard stones. 


of the same length for the palace and garden of the 

§ 7. 0/ Paragon (Touchstone) A^ 

A kind of black stone, called paragon, is likewise 
quarried in Egypt and also in some parts of Greece. It 
is so named because it forms a test for trying gold; the 
workman rubs the gold on this stone and discerns its 
colour, and on this account, used as it is for comparing 
or testing, it comes to be named paragon, or index- 
stone (a). Of this there is another variety, with a different 
grain and colour, for it has, almost but not quite, the 
tint of the mulberry, and does not lend itself readily 
to the tool. It was used by the ancients for some of those 
sphinxes and other animals seen in various places in 
Rome, and for a figure of greater size, a hermaphrodite 
in Parione,*'^ alongside of another most beautiful statue 
of porphyry.*^ This stone is hard to carve, but is extra- 
ordinarily beautiful and takes a wonderful polish (b). 
The same sort is also to be found in Tuscany, in the 
hills of Prato, ten miles distant from Florence (c), and 
in the mountains of Carrara. On modern tombs many 
sarcophagi and repositories for the dead are to be seen 
of it ; for example, in the principal chapel in the Carmine 
at Florence, where is the tomb of Piero Soderini (although 

^^This tazza is still in evidence and serves as the basin of the great fountain 
in the ' island ' lake in the western part of the| Boboli Gardens. It is said that 
Duke Cosimo extracted a second tazza larger than this one from the Elban 
quarry but it was unfortunately broken. Signor Cornish says the fragments are 
still to be seen. The sculptor Tribolo was sent to Elba to obtain the basins. Of 
the ' tavola ' or table nothing is known. 

^*In this apparently innocent section Vasari has mixed up notices of some 
half-dozen different kinds of stone, on most of which his ideas are somewhat 
vague. Hence a separate Note is required, and this will be found at the end of 
the 'Introduction' to Architecture, postea, p. 117 ('Paragon and other Stones 
associated with it by Vasari'). The letters (a), (b), etc., are referred to in the 

*'The 'Apollo' at Naples, in basalt, no. 6262. See Note, postea, p. 104. 

^^ The porphyry ' Apollo ' at Naples, no. 6281. See Note, as above. 


he is not within it) made of this stone, and a canopy too 
of this same Prato touchstone, so well finished and so 
lustrous that it looks like a piece of satin rather than a 
cut and polished stone (d). Thus again, in the facing 
which covers the outside of the church of Santa Maria 
del Fiore in Florence, all over the building, there is a 
different kind of black marble (e) and red marble (f), but 
all worked in the same manner. 

§ 8. Of Transparent Marbles for filling window openings. 

Some sorts of marble are found in Greece and in all 
parts of the East, which are white and yellowish, and 
very transparent. These were used by the ancients for 
baths and hot-air chambers and for all those places which 
need protection against wind, and in our own days there 
are still to be seen in the tribune of San Miniato a Monte, 
the abode of the monks of Monte Oliveto, above the gates 
of Florence, some windows of this marble, which admit 
light but not air.*^ By means of this invention people 
gave light to their dwellings and kept out the cold. 

§ 9. Of Statuary Marbles. 
From the same quarries ^° were taken other marbles 
free from veins, but of the same colour, out of which 
were carved the noblest statues. These marbles were of a 

■" The five eastern window-openings of S. Miniato are filled with slabs of antique 
pavonazzetto with red-purple markings, nearly two inches thick and measur- 
ing in surface about 9 ft. by 3 ft. The windows are square headed. The slabs 
transmit the light unequally according to the darker or lighter patches in their 
markings, but the effect is pleasing. Similar window-fillings are to be seen at 
Orvieto. ' Almost any marble,' it has been said, 'with crystalline statuary ground, 
an inch thick, placed on the sunny side of a church in Italy would admit sufficient 
light for worship, but it would not do in our variable climate.' The so-called 
Onyx marbles of Algeria and Mexico, as well as Oriental alabasters, are 
specially suitable for the purpose here in view. The ' white and yellowish ' 
eastern marbles that Vasari writes of were probably of this kind. 

*" By ' the same quarries ' Vasari means, no doubt, those of Egypt and Greece, 
of Carrara, of Prato, etc. , mentioned in § 7 in connection with ' paragon. ' On 
the subject see the Note on 'Tuscan Marble Quarries,' postea, p. iigf. 


very fine grain and consistency, and they were continually 
being made use of by all who carved capitals and other 
architectural ornaments. The blocks available for sculp- 
ture were of great size as appears in the Colossi of 
Montecavallo at Rome,?i in the Nile ^^ of the Belvedere 
and in all the most famous and noble statues. Apart 
from the question of the marble, one can recognize these 
to be Greek from the fashion of the head, the arrangement 
of the hair, and from the nose, which from its juncture 

^' The reference is to the two so-called ' Horse-Tamers ' opposite the Quirinal 
Palace at Rome, that probably once stood in front of the Thermae of Constantine, 
which occupied the slope of the Quirinal. The figures of the youths, perhaps 
representing the Dioscuri, are eighteen feet high, and the material was long ago 
pronounced Thasian marble (see Matz-Duhn, Antike Bildwerke in Rom, Leipzig, 
1881, I, 268). The works are Roman copies of Greek originals. They have 
recently been overhauled, with very good result as regards their appearance. The 
sculptor, Professor Ettore Ferrari, who superintended this work, reports that the 
material is ' marmo greco,' which may be held to settle the question in favour of 
Greek as against Luna marble. 

^ The ' Nile ' is now in the Braccio Nuovo of the Vatican, the fellow-statue, 
the ' Tiber, ' see ante, p. 36, in the Louvre at Paris. They are said to 
have been discovered at Rome early in the sixteenth century, near S. Maria 
Sopra Minerva where was the Temple of Isis and Serapis, and Pope Leo X 
had them placed in the Cortile di Belvedere of the Vatican. They were 
removed to Paris in 'the year X' by Napoleon, and in 1815 the 'Nile' 
was sent back to Rome, the ' Tiber ' remaining in the Louvre. The 
' Nile ' is much the better work of art and is a copy or a study from an 
Alexandrian original, perhaps the 'Nilus' in basalt, which, according to Pliny, 
Hist. Nat., XXXVI, 7, Augustus dedicated in the Temple of Peace. Amelung, in 
his Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museums, only states that the ' Nile ' is in 
' grobkornigem Marmor.' The material of the statue certainly differs from that of 
the restored parts, and we should guess it as Pentelic marble repaired with Carrara. 
About the ' Tiber,' Froener, in the Louvre Catalogue, states that it is of Pentelic 
marble, and it is so labelled. Our measurements show that both statues required 
blocks of the dimensions 10 ft. by 5 ft. by 5 ft. in height. It may be noted that 
the finest statuary marble known, that of the island of Paros, is not to be obtained 
in very large blocks. That out of which the Hermes of Praxiteles has been carved 
must have measured about 8 ft. by 5 ft. by 3 ft. 6 in. and is considered an 
exceptionally fine block. Pentelic and Carrara marble can be obtained in much 
larger pieces. We saw not long ago in the modern quarries behind Mount 
Pentelicus a block nearly 20 ft. in cube. One seventeen feet long has recently 
been cut in the Monte Altissimo quarries in the Carrara mountains for a copy of 
the ' David ' of Michelangelo. A piece of Monte Altissimo marble of the best 
quality is shown as J on the Frontispiece. 


with the eyebrows down to the nostril is somewhat 
square.^3 jhis marble is worked with ordinary tools and 
with drills, and is polished with pumice-stone, with chalk 
from Tripoli, and with leather and wisps of straw. 

In the mountains of Carrara in the Carfagnana,^* near 
to the heights of Luni, there are many varieties of marble, 
some black, ^^ some verging towards grey, some mingled 
with red and others again with grey veins.^^ These form 
an outer crust over the white marbles, and they take those 
colours, because they are not refined, but rather are smitten 
by time, water and the soil. Again, there are other sorts 
of marble, called ' cipollini,'^^ ' saligni,' ' campanini ' and 
' mischiati.'^^ The most abundant kind is pure white and 
milky in tone; it is easy to work and quite perfect for 
carving into figures. Enormous blocks lie there ready 
to be quarried, and in our own days, pieces measuring 
nine braccia have been hewn out for colossal statues. 
Two of these colossi have recently been sculptured, each 
from a single block. The one is Michelagnolo's ' David,' 
which is at the entrance of the Ducal Palace in Florence ; "^ 

^' This remark shows a just observation on the part of Vasari. The Greek nose 
is markedly different from the Florentine. The latter, as may be seen in the ' St. 
George ' of Donatello, or the ' David ' of Michelangelo, has more shape than 
the classical nose. There is more difference marked betvv'een the nasal bone and 
the cartilaginous prolongation towards the tip, and there is more modelling about 
the nostril, which the Italian sculptors make thinner and more sensitive. 

" The Carfagnana, or more properly Garfagnana, is the name applied to the upper 
part of the valley of the Serchio, between the Apennines and the Apuan Alps, on 
the western slopes of which the marble quarries are situated. See Note on ' Tuscan 
Marble Quarries,' postea, p. iigf., for the different marbles and their provenance. 

°* Benvenuto Cellini, Scultura, ch. iv, mentions this black marble from Carrara, 
which he says is very hard and brittle and difficult to work. Black marble is still 
quarried in the Carrara district, but only to a small extent. 

°^The grey marble is that known now as 'Bardiglio'; the grey-veined 
' Marmo-' or 'Bardiglio-' 'fiorito'; the red, 'Breccia.' 

^' For ' Cipollino ' see footnote 70 on p. 49, postea. 

°'The 'Mischiati' are the variegated stones we know as 'Breccias,' already 
noticed in § 5. Vasari explains the names ' Saligni ' and ' Campanini ' in § 10. 
The terms are not now in use. 

™ The ' David ' stood formerly on the left hand side as one entered the gateway 
of the Ducal Palace, or Palazzo Vecchio. It is 15 feet high. In 1873 it was 


the other is the ' Hercules and Cacus ' from the hand of 
Bandinello standing at the other side of the same entrance. 
Another block of nine braccia in length was taken out 
of the quarry a few years ago, in order that the same 
Baccio Bandinello should carve a figure of Neptune for 
the fountain which the Duke is having erected on the 
piazza. But, Bandinello being dead, it has since been 
given to Ammannato, an excellent sculptor, for him like- 
wise to carve a Neptune out of it.^° But of^all these 
marbles, that of the quarry named Polvaccio,^^ in the 
place of that name, has the fewest blemishes and veins 
and is free from those knots and nuts which very often 
occur in an extended surface of marble — occasioning no 
little difficulty to the worker, and spoiling the statues 
even when they are finished. From the quarries of 
Seravezza, near to Pietrasanta, there have been taken out 
a set of columns, all of the same height, destined for the 
fagade of San Lorenzo at Florence, which is now sketched 
out in front of the door of that church ; '^^ one of these 

removed, and is now in the Academy, but Bandinello's group still holds its 
original position to the right of the entrance, on the side towards the Uffizi. 

^ The existing figure of Neptune is the work of Ammanati, to whom Florence 
owes the stately Ponte S. Trinita. The subsidiary figures of sea-deities on the 
fountain are by other hands. 

^^See Note, postea, p. iigf. 

'^On the subject of the Seravezza quarries and their exploitation by Michel- 
angelo see Note, as above. With regard to the Fayade of S. Lorenzo much might 
be said, as the project for its completion has now again come forward into 
prominence. See articles by Sig. B. Supino in VArte, Anno IV, fasc. 7, and M. 
Marcel Reymond in the /ievue Archiologique for 1906. It is well known that 
Brunelleschi, who reconstructed the basilica in the fifteenth century, left the 
fa9ade incomplete and with no indication of his design for it. As it was the 
church of the Medici, the popes of this family, Leo X and Clement VII, furthered 
by means of a competition a grand project for its completion ; and in this work 
Michelangelo was for many years involved. Drawings of his for the proposed 
fa9ade are to be seen in the Casa Buonarroti, and he prepared marbles, as noticed 
in the Note, postea, p. iigf., but the preparations proved abortive. 

What Vasari says about Michelangelo's fajade that it ' e oggi abbozzata fuor 
della porta di detta chiesa,' and that there is one column on the spot, is interesting 
but not very easy to understand. Milanesi, in a note on this passage in his edition 
of Vasari, I, 119, going one better than the Lemonnier editors, gives a circum- 


columns is to be seen there, the rest remain, some in the 
quarry, some at the seashore. 

But returning to the— quarries of Pietrasanta,^^ I say 
that they were the quarries in which all the ancients 
worked, and no other marbles but these were used for 
their statues by those masters, who were so excellent. 
While the masses were being hewn out, they were always 
at work, blocking out figures in the rough on the stones 
while they were still in the quarry. The remains of many 
of these can be seen even yet in that place.®* This same 
marble, then, the moderns of to-day use for their statues, 
not only in Italy, but in France, England, Spain and 
Portugal, as can be seen to-day in the tomb executed in 
Naples by Giovan da Nola, the excellent sculptor, for 
Don Pietro di Toledo, viceroy of that kingdom, to whom 
all the marbles were presented, and sent to Naples by 
Duke Cosimo de' Medici.®^ This kind of marble has in 
itself larger available pieces and is more yielding and 
softer to work and receives a finer polish than any other 
marble. It is true that occasionally the workman meets 
with flaws called by the sculptors ' smerigli ' (emery veins) 

stantial account to the effect that ' The preliminary worlc (abbozzata) which was 
outside the church in the days of Vasari, was buried in the first years of the 
seventeenth century, along with other architectural fragments, in a trench excavated 
on the piazza along the left side of the church.' Unfortunately among the 
authorities at S. Lorenzo this statement is smiled at as a mere popular legend, 
but it is hoped that in connection with the long-delayed completion, which is 
now again on the tapis, the truth on this matter will come to light. 

"'.Milanesi remarks, ad loc, that for ' Pietrasanta ' Vasari should have written 
'Carrara,' as the quarries at the latter place were actually exploited by the 
ancients, whereas the Pietrasanta workings were only opened up in the time of 
Michelangelo. See postea, p. 122. The Pietrasanta people however do claim 
that the Romans were at work among their hills. 

"There are abundant instances both from Greek and from Roman times of 
statues, heads, architectural members, columns, and the like, blocked out in the 
quarries, and still lying unfinished as they were left many hundreds of years ago. 

"'Vasari gives a notice of Giovanni da Nola, whose surname was Merliano, 
in the Lives of Alfonso Lombardi and other sculptors. See Opere, ed. Milanesi, 
V, 94 f. He there describes the tomb mentioned above, which was to have been 
transported to Spain, but owing to the death of the viceroy, Don Pietro, Marquis 
of Villafranca, it has remained in 8. Giacomo at Naples. 



which usually cause the tools to break. The blocks are 
first roughed into shape, by a tool called ' subbia ' 
(point) 6^ which is pointed like a stake in facets, and is 
heavier or lighter as the case may be. At the next stage 
are used chisels, named ' calcagnuoli ' (toothed chisels), 

7"~■'^J ^^ l , lll |.^■l^.^^^.^V|^\,\w^ ■ rt'^^^v^.^s^>v^^■^^>'^|l^lVlW■>^^>.^^,^ ',>'^'■|^■.'|'''^■■^H';,^/j;^^ ./, r 

Fig. 2. — Tools mentioned by Vasari, etc. 
Aj B, Models of Tools used in Egypt at the present day for working hard stones. 

C, The pick referred to by Vasari, p. 41. 

D, A burin or graver. 

E-J. Tools in actual use in a stone-cutter's yard at Settignano : 

E, Subbia, a point. H, Scarpello, a chisel. 

F, Calcagnuolo, a toothed chisel.^ J, Trapano, a drill. 

G, Gradina, a broader toothed chisel. 

which have a notch in the middle of the edge of the blade; 
after that finer and finer tools with more teeth are used 
to score the marble, after which it is smoothed with another 
chisel called * gradina,' (broader toothed chisel) used to 
reduce and refine the figures. The tooth-marks left in the 
marble are removed with iron rasps straight and curved, 

^^ Some of the tools of sculptors and masons referred to by Vasari are shown 
in Fig. 2, E — ^J, above. 


and thus at last, by polishing gradually with pumice-stone 
the surface aimed at is attained. Iiji order not to fracture the 
marble, all the drill-holes are made with drills of different 
sizes weighing from twelve pounds each even to twenty, 
according to the size of the hole needed,®^ and they serve 
to finish every sort of work and to bring it to perfection. 
Of certain white marbles, streaked with grey,®^ sculptors 
and architects make ornaments for doors and columns 
for houses and the same are used also for pavements and 
for facings of large buildings, and for all sorts of things. 
All the marbles called ' mischiati ' ®^ are used for the same 

§ ID. Of Cipollino Marble.'"^ 

The cipoUini marbles are another kind, different in 

grain and colour, and found in other places besides 

Carrara. Most of them are greenish, and full of veins; 

they are useful for various things, but not for figures. 

"A worker in stones at Settignano knew of drills of the weight of about 
twelve pounds each, and thought twenty pounds conceivable, for very large work. 

"" Vasari seems to refer to the common greyish marble popularly called 'Sicilian.' 
There are finer kinds of veined marble called 'fioriti,' 'flowered,' including 
' marmi fioriti ' and ' bardigli fioriti,' the last in two shades of grey. 

''i.e., the breccias noticed in § 5. 

™ ' Cipollino ' marble, a very familiar material, receives its name from ' cipolla ' 
an onion, but there is a curious divergence of opinion as to the reason of the 
appellation, (i) The onion colour the marble shows in many specimens; (2) 
the onion-like shape of the large bossy markings which occur in the marble ; 
(3) the fact that it is disposed to scale away under the influence of the weather 
like the coats of an onion ; and (4) the concentric curves in which the edges of 
these coats are seen to lie in a section across the grain, have all been adduced 
as explanatory of the name. Herrmann in his Steinbruchindustrie, Berlin, 1899, 
p. 68, pronounces for the third, and this is also the opinion of Corsi, who says, 
Pietre Antiche, p. 97, ' gli scarpellini lo conoscono sotto il nome di cipollino, 
per la ragione che, trovandosi fra la sostanza calcare di tel marmo lunghi e spessi 
strati di mica, facilmente su tali strati si divide a somiglianza della cipolla.' Zirkel 
however, in his Lehrbuch der Petrographie, Leipzig, 1894, III, 452, pronounces 
for the fourth, which seems on the whole the one to be preferred. There are two 
cipollino columns standing in the Roman Forum a little to the east of the temple 
of Antoninus and Faustina, famous for its monoliths of this same marble, that in 
the concentric wavy lines marking the alternate layers in the stone remind us 
curiously of an onion cut in half. See for a specimen H on the Frontispiece. 



Those which the sculptors call ' saligni,' ''^ because they 
are partly transparent, and have that lustrous appearance 
seen in salt, have something of the nature of stalagmite, 
and are troublesome enough to make figures of; because 
the grain of the stone is rough and coarse, or because 
in damp weather water drops from it continually or else 
it sweats. The ' campanini ' marbles are so named 
because they sound like a bell under the hammer and 
give out a sharper note than other marbles .^^ These are 
hard and crack more easily than the kinds above men- 
tioned. They are quarried at Pietrasanta.^^ Again at 
Seravezza ''* in many places and at Campiglia ''^ there 
are marbles excavated, which are for the most part 
excellent for ashlar work and even fairly good sometimes 
for statues. 

§ II. Of White Pisan Marble. 

A kind of white marble, akin to limestone, is found 
likewise at Monte San Giuliano near Pisa.''^ It has been 
used for covering the outside walls of the Duomo and 
the Camposanto of Pisa, as well as for many other orna- 
ments to be seen in that city. Formerly the said marbles 
were brought to Pisa from the hill at San Giuliano with 
trouble and expense, but now it is different, because Duke 
Cosimo, in order to make the district more healthy and 
also to facilitate the carriage of the marbles and other 
stones taken from those mountains, has turned into a 
straight canal the river Osoli and many other streams, 
which used to rise in those plains and do damage to the 

'^ Vasari explains the name ' saligno ' as ' salt-like.' The term is not recognized 
3.t Carrara, nor in the Florentine manufactory of Mosaics. 

'" The term ' campanino ' for a kind of marble is not known now in the Carrara 

'' About 10 miles south east of Carrara. 
'* Near Pietrasanta in the Apuan Alps. 
" On the promontory of Piombino, opposite Elba. 

" In the so-called Pisan Mountains between Pisa and Lucca. For these places 
and their quarries see Note on 'Tuscan Marble Quarries,' postea, p. iigf. 


country. By means of this canal, the marbles, either 
worked or rough, can be easily conveyed, at a trifling 
cost, and with the greatest advantage to the city which 
is now almost restored to its former magnificence, thanks 
to the said Duke, who has no object more dear to him 
than that of improving and restoring the city, which was 
falling into ruins, before His Excellency became its lord.'^^ 

§ 12. Of Travertine. 

There is another sort of stone called travertine, which 
is much used for building and also for carvings of various 
sorts. It is always being quarried in many places 
throughout Italy, as in the neighbourhood of Lucca, at 
Pisa, and round about Siena; but the largest blocks and 
the best, that is, those which are most easily worked, are 
taken from above the river Teverone at Tivoli.'^^ The 
stone is all a kind of coagulation of earth and of water, 
which by its hardness and coldness congeals and petrifies 
not only earth, but stumps and branches and leaves of 
trees. On account of the water that remains within the 
stones — which never can be dry so long as they lie under 
water — they are full of pores which give them a spongy 
and perforated appearance, both within" and without. 

Of travertine the ancients constructed their most won- 
derful buildings, for example, the Colosseum, and the 

" See Note, as above, especially p. 126. 

"There are great quarries of this stone below Tivoli near the course of the 
ancient Anio, now Teverone. The station Bagni on the Roma-Tivoli railway is 
close to them. Those near the place called Barco were exploited by the ancient 
Romans, while Bernini derived the stone for the colonnades in front of St. 
Peter's from the quarries called ' Le Fosse,' a little to the north of the former. 
Vitruvius, De Arch., 11, vii, 2, writes of the ' Tiburtina saxa ' as resisting all 
destructive agencies save that of fire, and the remark is repeated by Pliny, 
Hist. Nat., XXXVI, 22. Vasari's account of its origin is correct. It is a deposit 
of lime in water, and the cavities in it are partly caused by plants, moss, etc., 
round which the deposit has formed itself and which of course have long ago 
decayed away. See O on the Frontispiece. The stone did not come into 
use at Rome until about the last century of the Republic, and it was not, like 
peperino, one of the old traditional building materials. 


Treasury by the church of Ss. Cosimo e Damiano^^ and 
many other edifices. They used it without stint for the 
foundations of their public buildings, and in working 
these basements, they were not too fastidious in finishing 
them carefully, but left them rough, as in rustic work; 
and this they did perhaps because so treated they possess 
a certain grandeur and nobility of their own.^" But in our 
days there has been found one who has worked travertine 
most skilfully, as was formerly seen in that round temple, 
begun but never finished, save only the basement, on the 
piazza of San Luigi de' Francesi in Rome.^^ It was under- 
taken by a Frenchman named Maestro Gian, who studied 
the art of carving in Rome and became so proficient, that 
his work in the beginning of this temple ^ould stand 
comparison with the best things, either ancient or modern, 
ever seen carved in travertine. He carved Astrological 
globes, salamanders in the fire, royal emblems, devices 
of open books showing the leaves, and carefully finished 
trophies and masks. These, in their own place, bear 
witness to the excellence and quality of the stone which, 
although it is coarse, can be worked as freely as marble. 
It possesses a charm of its own, owing to the spongy 
appearance produced by the little cavities which cover 
the surface and look so well. This unfinished temple 
being left imperfect, was razed by the French, and the 
said stones and other pieces that formed part of its con- 
struction were placed in the fafade of the church of San 
Luigi ^2 and in some of its chapels, where they are well 
arranged, and produce a beautiful effect. 

''Vasari evidently refers to the remains of the Templum Sacrae Urbis behind 
the present church of Ss. Cosma e Damiano, to which was affixed the ancient 
' Capitoline ' plan of Rome. 

*" See the remarks on Rusticated masonry in § 20, and Notes, postea, pp. 65 
and 132. 

8^ On the 'round temple,' and its designer, 'Maestro Gian,' see Note on the 
subject, postea, p. 128 f. 

^S. Luigi dei Francesi is the national church of the French, and is situated 
close to the Palazzo Madama, the meeting place of the Italian Senate, near the 
Piazza Navona. The present edifice was built by Giacomo della Porta and con- 
secrated in 1589. See Note, postea, p. 128 f. 


Travertine is excellent for walls, because after it is built 
up in squared courses and worked into mouldings, it can 
be entirely covered with stucco ^^ and thereafter be 
impressed with any designs in relief that are desired, just 
as the ancients did in the public entrances to the Colos- 
seum ^* and in many other places ; and as Antonio da 
San Gallo has done in the present day in the hall of the 
Pope's palace, in front of the chapel,^^ where he has faced 
the travertine with stucco bearing many excellent devices. 
More than any other master however has Michelagnolo 
Buonarroti ennobled this stone in the decoration of the 
court of the Casa Farnese,^^ With marvellous judgement 

^ For which it offers in the cavities above spoken of an excellent key. 

" Traces of these stucco decorations are still to be seen in the public entrance 
to the Colosseum next the Esquiline. They are said to have been taken as 
models by some of the plaster-workers of the Renaissance. See Vasari's Life 
of Giovanni da Udine, Opere, vi, 553. 

" This is the so-called ' Sala Regia ' which serves as a. vestibule to the Sistine 
Chapel. Sixtus IV planned it and San Gallo enlarged it and began the adorn- 
ment of the vault with plaster work, which was carried on afterwards by Perino 
del Vaga and Daniele da Volterra (Pistolesi, II Vaticano Descritto, VIII, 89). It 
is the most richly decorated of all the Vatican apartments, but is florid and over- 
laden. The stucco enrichment of the roof is heavy, and the figures in the same 
material by Daniele da Volterra that are sprawling on the tops of the doorways 
and on the cornices are of the extravagant later Renaissance type. The contrast 
between this showy hall and the exquisitely treated Appartamento Borgia of 
earlier date is very marked. 

*°The Farnese Palace is in the main the work of Antonio da San Gallo, the 
younger, who at his death in 1546 had carried up the fa9ade nearly to the cornice 
and completed the ground story and half the second story of the cortile. 
Michelangelo finished the second or middle story of the cortile, as far as the 
architecture went, ' according to San Gallo's design, and added the third story 
from his own. His are also the enrichments of the frieze of the second order in 
the cortile, and he has the chief credit for the noble external cornice, of which 
Vasari writes in this section. It is now rather the fashion to criticize severely 
Michelangelo's architectural forms, and G. Clausse, Les San Gallo, Paris, 1901, 
condemns his third story of the cortile and says of his frieze (p. 85), ' Michelange 
fit ajouter dans la frise ces guirlandes et ces mascarons en stuc qui enlevent i ce 
beau portique le caractere de grandeur simple et d'harmonieuse majesty dfl a ses 
proportions mSmes.' It will not escape notice that Vasari regards these orna- 
ments as not in stucco but in the travertine itself. On the question thus raised 
Monseigneur Duchesne, the distinguished Director of the French School at Rome 


he has used it for windows, masks, brackets, and many 
other such fancies; all these are worked as marble is 
worked and no other similar ornament can be seen to 
excel this in beauty. And if these things are rare, more 
wonderful than all is the great cornice on the front facade 
of the same palace, than which nothing more magnificent 
or more beautiful can be sought for. Michelagnolo has 
also employed travertine for certain large cHapels on the 
outside of the building of St. Peter's, and in the interior, 
for the cornice that runs all round the tribune ; so finished 
is this ■ cornice that not one of the joints can be per- 
ceived, everyone therefore can well understand with what 
advantage to the work we employ this kind of 5tone. 
But that which surpasses every other marvel is the con- 
struction in this stone of the vault of one of the three 
tribunes in St. Peter's; the pieces composing it are joined 
in such a manner that not only is the building well tied 
together with various sorts of bonds, but looked at from 
the ground it appears made out of a single piece. ^^ 

§ 13. Of Slates. 

We now come to a different order of stones, blackish 
in colour and used by the architects only for laying on 
roofs. These are thin flags produced by nature and time 
near the surface of the earth for the service of man. Some 

which is housed in the Farnese, has had the kindness in reply to our inquiry 
to say that so far as can be ascertained without the use of scaffolding the 
ornaments of the frieze are in stucco, with the exception of the Fleur-de-lys which 
occur in the position of key-stones above the centre of each window arch. These 
are in travertine, as are the ornaments (trophies of arms etc.) carved on the 
metopes of the frieze of the order of the ground story in the cortile. The point 
has some interest in connection with the travertine carvings by the French artist 
at S. Luigi dei Francesi (see postea, p. 131), and the suggestion of M. Marcel 
Reymond (loc. cit.) that the Italians of the first half of the fifteenth century were 
not accustomed, as the French were, to execute decorative carvings in soft stone. 

8' The exterior of St Peter's is built of travertine, and a walk round it gives an 
opportunity for a study of the fine effect of the stone when used on a vast scale. 
The details of construction in the interior, which are lauded by Vasari, are now 
concealed under the decoration that covers all the interior surfaces. 


of these are made into receptacles, built up together in 
such a manner that the pieces dovetail one into the other. 
The vessels are filled with oil according to their holding 
capacity and they preserve it most thoroughly. These 
slates are a product of the sea coast of Genoa, in a place 
called Lavagna ; ^^ th^ey are excavated in pieces ten braccia 
long and are made use of by artists for their oil paihtings, 
because pictures painted on slate last much longer than 
on any other material, as we shall discuss more appropri- 
ately in the chapters on painting. 

§ 14. Of Peferinofi^ 

We shall also refer in a future chapter to a stone named 
piperno or more commonly peperigno, a blackish and 
spongy stone, resembling travertine, which is excavated 
in the Roman Campagna. It is used for the posts of 
windows and doors in various places, notably at Naples 
and in Rome; and it also serves artists for painting on 
in oil, as we shall relate in the proper place. This is a 
very thirsty stone and indeed more like cinder than 
anything else. 

'^ Lav^na is on the coast about half way between Genoa and Spezzia. The 
slate of the district is pronounced by Mr. Brindley to be of poor quality and 
liable to bleach to a dirty ochre colour like that of brown paper. In the Official 
Catalogue of the Italian section of the International Exhibition of 1862 it is 
stated that in modern times also ' large jars or reservoirs for containing oil, 
made of this slate, are employed in Liguria, as well as in the principal maritime 
■dep6ts of the oil trade.' 

''Peperino is a volcanic product in origin quite distinct from travertine. It 
consists of ashes and fragments of different materials compacted together and 
is called ' pepper stone ' from the black grains that occur in it. /It was one 
of the two old traditional building stones at Rome before the introduction of 
travertine from the quarries by Tibur, the other being the coarser and commoner 
tufa of which the wall of Servius TuUius was built. The most interesting 
monument in the material is the sarcophagus of Lucius Cornelius Scipio Barbatus 
in the Vatican, dating from the third century B.C. A characteristic piece, with 
the, black ' pepper ' marks, is shown as Q on the Frontispiece. 


§ 15. Of the Stone from Istria.^° 

There is moreover quarried in Istria a stone of a livid 
white, which very easily splits, and this is more frequently 
used than any other, not by the city of Venice alone, but by 
all the province of Romagna, for all works both of masonry 
and carving. It is worked with tools and instruments 
longer than those usually employed, and chiefly with 
certain little hammers that follow the cleavage of the stone, 
where it readily parts. A great quantity of this kind of 
stone was used by Messer Jacopo Sansovino, who built 
the Doric edifice of the Panattiera ^^ in Venice, and also 
that in the Tuscan style for the Zecca (mint) on the Piazza 
of San Marco.^2 Thus they go on executing all their 

'" Istrian stone is a fine-grained limestone of a warm yellowish grey tint ; 
it is capable of taking a polish, and is obtainable in large pieces. It is broken 
at various points of the coast from Merlera near Pola to the island of Lesina 
off the coast by Spalato, and was largely used in the buildings of Venice, and 
generally in north-eastern Italy. A considerable amount has been recently 
employed in the monumental buildings of the Ring at Vienna. See L on 
the Frontispiece. 

'^ ' The Doric edifice of the Panattiera ' sounds a very curious description of 
Sansovino's famous and magnificent Library of S. IJarco, the finest late Renais- 
sance building in Italy, but this seems to be what Vasari had in his mind. 
Dr. Robertson of Venice has been kind enough to explain in a letter the 
history of the site which he has ascertained from the archives. The ground 
where the Library now stands was occupied up to 1537 by a government 
grain and bread store, the ' Panattiera ' (or more properly ' Panatteria '). The 
shops for the sale of bread were then removed and grouped round the base 
of the Campanile, where they were replaced a little later by Sansovino's Loggetta. 
Vasari visited Venice in 1542, and at that time if the shops and store had 
themselves been removed their name would still cling to the place and explain 
' his words. We should hardly call the Library a 'Doric edifice,' as only the 
lower Order is ' Doric,' but we must remember that it was only this lower 
Order that would be completed at the date of Vasari's visit. 

8^ The Tuscan Zecca. The original Zecca or mint was at the Rialto, 
and it was afterwards transferred to the Piazzetta, where Sansovino in 1535 
erected for it the present edifice, in the rusticated or Tuscan style. The situation 
of it is between the Library and the quay. The fa9ade shows an arcaded lowest 
story in rusticated masonry, with two stories above, one in the Doric the 
other in the Ionic Order, and the columns in both cases are themselves rusticated ; 
that is to say they have projecting horizontal courses of stone that appear to 
mark them with a series of bands or bars. 


works for that city, doors, windows, chapels, and any 
other decorations that they find convenient to make, not- 
withstanding the fact that breccias and other kinds of 
stone could easily be conveyed from Verona, by means 
of the river Adige. Very few works made of these letter 
materials are to be seen, because of the general use of 
the Istrian stone, into which porphyry, serpentine and 
other sorts of breccias are often inlaid, resulting in com- 
positions which are very ornamental. This stone is of 
the nature of the limestone called 'alberese,' not unlike 
that of our own districts, and as has been said it splits 

§ 1 6. 0/ Pietra Serena. 
There only remains now the pietra serena and the 
grey stone called ' macigno ' ^^ and the pietra forte which 
is much used in the mountainous parts of Italy, especially 
in Tuscany, and most of all in Florence and her territory. 
The stone that they call pietra serena^* draws towards 

^' ' Macigno ' is a green grey sandstone of the lower tertiary formation in Italy. 

** Pietra Serena is a very fine sedimentary sandstone, and Vasari does not 
say too much in its praise. Baldinucci in his Vocabolario repeats much of 
what Vasari has said, but mentions also a 'pietra bigia' or grey stone, which 
lies outside the 'serena,' and is inferior to it. 

The quarries of pietra serena are abundant along the southern slopes of Monte 
Ceceri, to the south east of Fiesole, overhanging Majano. The blue colour 
Vasari ascribes to it is the cause of its name, the epithet ' sereno ' being specially 
applicable to the clear blue sky. See G on the Frontispiece. Vasari's account of 
the stones dealt with in §§ i6, 17, is not very clear, as he returns to the epithet 
'serena' at the close of § 16 for a stone that he makes to differ essentially 
from the ' serena ' of the beginning of the section in that it is weather-resisting. 
Cellini in his second Treatise, Delia Scultura, ed. Milanesi, 1893, p. 201, 
is clearer. He distinguishes" three kinds, (i) 'pietra serena,' azure in hue 
and only good for work in interiors ; (2) a stone of a brownish hue (tane) that 
he calls 'pietra morta.' The lexicographers fight shy of this term, but it 
seems to mean a stone without any lime in it and therefore unchangeable by 
the action of fire, while a limestone would be ' pietra viva.' See Cellini, loc. cit., 
p. 187. This is suitable for figure carving, and it resists 'wind and rain and 
all violence of the weather.' It is evidently the stone Vasari writes of as the 
material of Donatello's 'Dovizia.' (3) The third kind is the pietra forte, also 
brownish in hue, and usefiil for decorative carvings on exteriors. Cellini notes 
as Vasari does that it is only found in small pieces. 


blue or rather towards a greyish tint. There are quarries 
of it in many places near Arezzo, at Cortona, at Volterra, 
and throughout the Apennines. The finest is in tjie hills 
of Fiesole, and it is obtained there in blocks of very great 
size, as we see in all the edifices constructed in Florence 
by Filippo di Ser Brunellesco, who had all the stones 
needed for the churches of San Lorenzo and of Santo 
Spirito quarried there, and also an unlimited quantity 
which are in every building throughout the city. It is 
a very beautiful stone to look at, but it wastes away and 
exfoliates where it is subjected to damp, rain, or frost. 
' Under cover however it will last for ever. Much more 
durable than this and of finer colour is a sort of bluish 
stone, in our day called ' pietra _^dgl_iQ Ssato .' ^^ When 
quarried, the first layer is gravelly and coarse, the second 
is never free from knots and fissures, the-third is admirable 
being much finer in grain. Michelagnolo used this, 
because of its yielding grain, in building the Library and 
Sacristy of San Lorenzo for Pope Clement, and he has 
had the mouldings, columns, and every part of the work 
executed with such great care that even if it were of silver 
it would not look so well.®^ The stone takes on a very 
fine polish, so much so that nothing better in this kind 
of material could be wished for. On this account it was 
forbidden by law that the stone be used in Florence for 
other than public buildings, unless permission had been 
obtained from the governing authorities.^'^ The Duke 

'^ Pietra del fossato. Signer Cellerini, of the Opera del Duomo, Florence, 
says that the name ' pietra del fossataccio ' is still used among practical stone 
workers. It is stone gained by excavation. 

°'The colour of the stone in the Libr?,ry and New Sacristy of S. Lorenzo 
is a brownish grey rather than 'bluish.' It tells as warm in hue against the 
white walls, which are of marble in the Sacristy and in the Library of plaster. 

''Dr. A. Gherardi, Director of the State Archives at Florence, has been 
so kind as to make researches in the documents under his charge for the purpose of 
discovering Vasari's authority for this statement. These investigations have so far 
however proved without result. Among the ' Leggi e Bandi ' of the sixteenth 
century in Tuscany collected by Cantini in the first volume of his Legislazione 
Tascana there are various regulations about trades, prohibitions against cutting 


Cosimo has had a great quantity of this stone put into ^ 
use, as for example, in the columns and ornaments of the 
loggia of the Mercato Nuovo, and for the work begun 
by Bandinello in the great audience chamber of the palace 
and also in the other hall which is opposite to it ; but the 
greatest amount, more than ever used elsewhere, has been 
taken by his Excellency for the Strada de' Magistrati,^^ 
now in construction, after the design and under the direc- 
tion of Giorgio Vasari of Arezzo. This stone demands 
as much time for working it as marble. It is so hard 
that water does not affect it and it withstands all other a 
attacks of time. __,./ 

Besides this there is another sort called pietra serena, 
found all over the hill, which is coarser, harder, and not 
so much coloured, and contains certain knots in the 
stone. It resists the influence of water and frost, and is 
useful for figures and carved ornaments. Of this is carved 
La Dovizia (Abundance), a figure from the hand of 
Donatello on the column of the Mercato Vecchio in 
Florence ; ^^ and it serves also for many other statues 

timber on the hills, measures facilitating the import of building materials into 
certain ocalities, and the like, which show that an edict such as Vasari refers 
to was quite possible in the early days of the Grand Ducal regime. The nearest 
approach to it that we have been able to discover are certain edicts of the end 
of the sixteenth century, published by Mariotti, La 1 egislazione delle Belle Arii, 
Roma, 1892, p. 246 f., that prohibit the exportation from the state of 'pietre 
mischie dure ' (agates, jaspers, and the like) of which the Grand Duke had 
need for a certain chapel he was building, evidently the 'Cappella dei 
Principi' at S. Lorenzo. 

''This is of course the well known ' Uffizi,' erected by Vasari between 1560 
and 1574 for the accommodation of various state departments. The expression 
' strada ' or ' street ' has reference to the scheme of the building, which is erected 
along the two sides and one end of a very elongated, and indeed street-like, 
court, from which the various entrances into the building open. In documents 
relating to its construction it is sometimes referred to as 'Via dei Magistrate' 
A little later Vasari gives an interesting note on the scheme of construction 
he employed in the lower order of the edifice. See postea, p. 72 f. 

'"The Mercato Vecchio at Florence was an open square that occupied the 
northern portion of the site now covered by the new Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele. 
On the side next the Via Calimara a granite column was erected in 1431, and on 
this column was set up the statue by Donatello representing ' Abundance ' 


executed by excellent sculptors, not only in this city, but 
throughout the territory. 

§ 17. Of Pietra Forte. ^°° 
The pietra forte is quarried in many places; it resists 
rain, sun, frost, and every trial, and demands time to work 
it, but it behaves very well ; it does not exist in very large 
blocks. 1°^ Both by the Goths ^°^ and by the moderns 
have been constructed of this stone the most beautiful 
buildings to be found in Tuscany, as can be seen in 
Florence in the filling of the two arches, which form 
the principal doors of the oratory of Orsanmichele,i°^ for 

{'Dovizia'). This stood till October 20, 1721, when in consequence of damage 
due to time and exposure it fell to the ground and was dashed into pieces. 
In the following year, 1722, Giov. Batt. Foggini carved another figure 
representing the same allegorical personage, and this remained till our own 
time ; and may be seen in situ in one of Alinari's photographs. It is now 
in the museum of S. Marco with other fragments from the demolitions in the 
'Centro.' See Guido Carocci, // Mercato Vecchio di Firenze, Firenze, 1884. 

™' On ' Pietra Forte,' the Official Catalogue of the Italian Section of the 
International Exhibition of 1862 reports, p. 62, as follows. 'The rock called 
Pietraforte ... is very largely used in Florence ; it is veiy durable, as may be 
seen in the older palaces of the city. In composition it is an arenaceous lime- 
stone, which is very hard and unalterable, as its name implies.' It has been 
extensively quarried by Fiesole and to the north of Majano, and Monte Ripaldi, 
above the valley of the Ema to the south of Florence, furnishes large supplies 
of it. See M, N, on the Frontispiece. 

'"1 The JDlocks used for the facade of the Pitti have been remarked on for their 
great si2;e, one of them, an exceptional one it is true, measures 28 ft. in length. 

^"^On this use of the word 'Goth' or 'Gothic' in the sense of 'mediaeval,' 
see Note on 'Vasari's Opinion on Mediaeval Architecture,' postea, p. 133 f. 

I'S Or San Michele, as every visitor to Florence knows, is the church occupying 
the lower story of a lofty building in the Via Calzaiuoli. Constructively speaking 
the upper part is supported on the ground story by piers between which are 
round headed arches, three on the north and south sides and two on the east and 
west. The heads of these are in every case filled with florid late Gothic tracery 
with intersecting arches and rich cusping, and on all sides but the west the 
openings below the heads are walled in. On the west the arches contain the 
doorways of entrance, and the tracery above the doors, about which Vasari is 
writing, is richer than on the other sides of the building. It is curious 
to find Vasari calling this work ' truly admirable,' whereas a page or two later 
we shall find him inveighing against the ' Goths ' (the mediaeval builders) and 
all their works and ways. 


these are truly admirable things and worked with the 
utmost care. Of this same stone there are throughout, 
the city, as , has been -said, many statues and coats of 
arms,^°* as for instance in the Fortress and various oth^r 
places. It is yellowish in colour with fine white veins 
that add greatly to its attractiveness, and it is sometimes 
employed for statues where there are to be fountains, 
because it is not injured by water. The walls of the 
palace of the Signori, the Loggia, and Orsanmichele are 
built of it, also the whole interior of the fabric of Santa 
Maria del Fiore, as well as all the bridges of our city, 
the Palace of the Pitti and that of the Strozzi families. 
It has to be worked with picks because it is very compact. 
Similarly, the other stones mentioned above must be 
treated in the manner already explained for the working 
of marble and other sorts of stones. 

§ i8. Conclusion of Chapter. 
After all however, good stones and well tempered tools 
apart, the one thing essential is the art, the intelligence, 
andThe judgement of those who use them, for there is the 

'"* Coats of arms. These ' stemmi,' as they are often called, are very familiar 
objects on the exterior of Tuscan palaces, and the arms of the Medici, six round 
balls or pellets, are constantly in evidence. In the view of the Fortress in Fig. 3 
a ' stemma ' of the Medici is to be seen displayed on the face of the wall. It is 
referred to by Vasari, Opere, ed. Milanesi, IV, 544. Mariotti, La Legislaaione 
delle Belle Arti, Roma, 1892, p. 245, has printed an interesting edict of the year 
1571, in Tuscany, designed to protect these memorials of the ancient Florentine 
families. The memory of those who built the houses, it says, ' is preserved and 
perpetuated by their Arms, Insignia, Titles, Inscriptions, which are affixed or 
painted or carved or suspended over the doors, arches, windows, projecting angles 
or other places where they are conspicuously to be seen,' and the edict, re-enacting 
older regulations, reminds the citizens that no one who purchases or becomes 
possessed of an old house on which there are insignia of the kind is allowed to 
remove or in any way deface them. No new owner is to presume to add his own 
arms or other memorial by the side of the old ones of the founder and constructor 
of the house. Only in cases where these are absent may the new owner put up his 
own insignia. This regulation shows a historical sense and a care for the tangible 
memorials of => city's past which have been too often lacking in more modern 
times. No doubt it is due to its enforcement that so many of these ' stemmi ' are 
left to add interest to the somewhat modernized streets of the Florence of to-day. 


greatest jlifference_between artists, although they may all 
use the same method, as to the measure of grace and 
beauty they impart to the wgrksjwhich they execute. This 
enaBles us to discern and to recognize the perfection of 
the work done by those who really understand, as opposed 
to that of others who know less. As, therefore, all the 
excellence and beauty of the things most highly praised 
consist in that supreme perfection given to them by those 
who understand and can judge, it is necessary to strive 
with all diligence always to make things beautiful and 
perfect — nay rather, most beautiful and most perfect. 


The Description of squared Ashlar-work (lavoro di quadro) and of 
carved Ashlar-work (lavoro di quadro intagliato). 

§ 19. The work of the Mason. 

Having thus considered all the varieties of stone, which 
our artificers use either for ornament or for sculpture, 
let us now go on to say, that when stone is used for 
actual building, all that is worked with square and com- 
passes and that has corners is called squared ashlar work 
(lavoro di quadro). The term (quadro) is given, because 
of the squared faces and corners, for every order of 
moulding or anything which is straight, projecting, or 
rectangular is work which takes the name of 'squared,' 
and so is it commonly known among the artificers. 
But when the stone does not remain plain dressed, 
but is chiselled into mouldings, friezes, foliage, 
eggs, spindles, dentels and other sorts of carving, the 
work on the members chosen to be so treated is called 
by the mason carved ashlar work (opera di quadro 
intagliato or lavoro di intaglio). Of this sort of plain 
and carved ashlar are constructed all the different Orders, 
Rustic, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite, and so 
too, in the times of the Goths, the German work ^ (lavoro 
tedesco) : and no kind of ornament can be made that 
is not founded on both sorts of the work above described. 
It is the same with breccias and marbles and every sort 
of stone, and also with bricks, used as a foundation for 

^ ' In the times of the Goths ; ' ' German work. ' See Note on ' Vasari's Opinion 
on Mediaeval Architecture,' postea, p. 133 f. 


moulded stucco work. The same applies to walnut, 
poplar, and every kind of wood. B(Ut, because many do 
not recognize the difference between one Order and 
another, let us discuss distinctly and as briefly as possible 
in the chapter which follows, every mode and manner 
of these. 


Concerning the five Orders of Architecture, Rustic, Doric, Ionic, 
Corinthian, Composite, and also German Work. 

§ 20. Rusticated masonry and the Tuscan Order. 

The work called Rustic ^ is more stunted, and more mas- 
sive than that of any other Order, it being the beginning 
and foundation of all. The profiles of the mouldings are 
simpler and in consequence more beautiful, as are the 
capitals and bases as well as every other member. 
The Rustic socles or pedestals, as we call them, on which 
rest the columns, are square in proportion, with a solid 
moulding at the foot and another above which binds it 
like a cornice. The height of the column measures six 
heads,2 in imitation of people who are dwarfed and adapted 

' It will be seen that in this section Vasari combines two quite distinct things, the 
so-called ' Tuscan,' or as he calls it, the ' Rustic ' Order, and rusticated masonryi 
which has nothing to do with the Orders of Architecture, but is a method of treating 
wall-surfaces. On this see the Note on ' Rusticated Masonry,' postea, p. 132. 
The reason why the ' Tuscan ' is called the ' Rustic ' Order, is that, being the 
simplest and, so to say, rudest of the Orders, it is most suitably employed in 
connection with walling of a rough and bossy appearance. The shafts of columns 
are sometimes rusticated to correspond with the walling, as at the Venetian 
' Zecca,' mentioned ante, p. 56, but the expedient is of doubtful advantage, as 
the clear upright appearance of the column is thereby sacrificed. 

^ Vasari says here that the ' Rustic ' or Tuscan column is six ' heads ' high. 
What does he mean by this? There is evidently in his mind the familiar com- 
parison of different columns to human figures of different proportions, a conceit 
found in Vitruvius (iv, i, 6f.) and in writers of the Renaissance {see Alberti, 
£>e Re Aedificatoria, Lib. IX, c. 7), and so he measures by ' heads,' which would 
apply to a figure but not to a column. ' Testa,' ' head,' cannot, as the context 
shows, mean the height of the capital of the column. It really means here the 



to sustain weights. Of tliis Order there are to be seen 
in Tuscany many colonnades both plain and rusticated, 
with and also without bosses and niches between the 
columns : and many porticoes which the ancients were 
accustomed to construct in their villas ; and in the country 
one still sees many tombs of the kind as at Tivoli and 
at Pozzuolo, This Order served the ancients for doors, 
windows, bridges, aqueducts, treasuries, castles, towers, 
and strongholds for storing ammunition and artillery; 
also for harbours, prisons and fortresses; in these the 
stones project in an effective manner in points like a 
diamond, or with many facets. The projections are treated 
in various ways, either in bosses, flattened, so as not to 
act as a ladder on the walls — for it would be easy to climb 
up if the bosses jutted out too much — or in other ways, 
as one sees in many places, and above all in Florence, 
in the principal fa9ade of the chief citadel, built by 
Alexander, first duke of Florence.^ This fa9ade, out of 

lower diameter of the column. It is this lower diameter (or sometimes half the 
lower diameter) that is the normal unit of measurement for the proportions of a 
column. Thus the height of the Tuscan column is given by Vitruvius and by 
Palladio and other moderns as six times the lower diameter. Though 'head' 
may seem a very curious word with which to describe this, there is no doubt that 
such is the meaning of it. Alberti, in his tract on the Orders and their pro- 
portions, uses the lower diameter as his measure but applies to it this very term 
'testa.' There is a certain letter from Vasari to Duke Cosimo that deals with 
the measurements of a column of granite presented to him by the Pope and 
afterwards conveyed from Rome and set up in the Piazza di S. Trinita, where it 
carries the porphyry statue by Francesco del Tadda (postea, p. iii). Vasari gives 
the diameter of the ' head ' of this column, but notes afterwards that the shaft 
diminishes from the 'head' upwards towards the necking (coUarino). Hence 
there is no doubt about the interpretation of the word in question. See the letter 
in Opere, ed. Milanesi, viii, 352. 

' The Citadel of Florence. This is not the ' Belvedere ' fortress on the hill 
behind the Palazzo Pitti, but the so-called ' Fortezza da Basso ' to the north of 
the town, now used as barracks, which the railway skirts just before entering 
the station near S. Maria Novella. It dates from 1534, and was built by 
Alessandro dei Medici with the intention of overawing the citizens. It occupied 
the site of the Faenza gate, and was partly within and partly outside the 
enceinte of the city. The ' principal fa9ade ' of which Vasari writes, is still well 
preserved in the middle of the southern face, opposite the town, and a sketch 



respect to the Medici emblems, is made with ornaments 
of diamond points and flattened pellets, but both in low 
relief. The wall composed of pellets and diamonds side 
by side is very rich and varied and most beautiful to 
look at. There is abundance of this work at the villas 
of the Florentines, the gates and entrances, and at the 
houses and palaces where they pass the summer, which 

Fig. 3. — Fortezza da Basso at Florence. 

not only beautify and adorn that neighbourhood, but are 
also of the greatest use and convenience to the citizens. 
But much more is the city itself enriched with magnificent 
buildings, decorated with rusticated masonry, as for 

of it is shown in Fig. 3, but nothing else of interest is said to remain from the 
Renaissance period. 

The masonry of the fayade is an excellent example of elaborate rustication, and 
is very carefully executed in pietra forte. The illustration, Fig. 4, bears out 
Vasari's description, and exhibits in alternation round bosses 18 in. in diameter 
and 4 in. in salience, and oblong diamonds about 3 ft. by z ft. 6 in. There are 
worked borders about i in. in width round all the lines of juncture, and the 
scheme is worth noticing. 


example the Casa Medici, the fa9ade of the Pitti Palace, 
the palace of the Strozzi family and innumerable others. 
When well designed, the more solid and simple the 
building, the more skill and beauty do we perceive in it, 
and this kind of work is necessarily more lasting and 
durable than all others, seeing that the pieces of stone 
are bigger and the assemblage much better, all the build- 
ing being in bond, one stone with another. Moreover, 
because the members are smooth and massive, the chances 
of fortune and of weather cannot injure them so severely 
as the stones that are carved and undercut, or, as we say 
here, ' suspended in the air ' by the cleverness of the 

§ 21. The Doric Order. 

The Doric Order was the most massive known to the 
Greeks, more robust both as to strength and mass, and 
much less open than their other Orders. And not only 
the Greeks but the Romans also dedicated this sort of 
building to those who were warriors, such as generals 
of armies, consuls, praetors — and much more often to their 
gods, as Jove, Mars, Hercules and others. According 
to the rank and character of these the buildings were 
carefully distinguished — made plain or carved, simple or 
rich— so that all could recognize the grade and the position 
of the different dignitaries to whom they were dedicated,* 
or of him who ordered them to be built. Consequently 
one sees that the ancients applied much art in the com- 
position of their buildings, that the profiles of the Doric 

''Vitruvius in his first boolj (i, ii, 5) gives directions as to the Orders suitable for 
temples to different deities. Thus Minerva, Mars, and Hercules are to have 
temples in the Doric style, etc. ; while in the eighteenth century Sir William 
^ Chambers, transferring the same idea to modern times, says that Doric ' may be 
employed in the houses of generals, or other martial men, in mausoleums erected 
to their memory, or in triumphal bridges and arches built to celebrate their 
victories.' The modern architect is disposed to smile at these restrictions, but 
there underlies them a sound appreciation of the aesthetic significance pf architec- 
tural forms. 




mouldings are very graceful, and the features harmonious 
and of a high degree of beauty ; and also that the propor- 
tion of the shafts of the columns is very well understood, 
as they are neither too thick nor too thin. The form 
of the columns, as is commonly said, resembles that of 
Hercules ; it shows a certain solidity capable of sustaining 
the weight of the architraves, friezes, cornices and the rest 
of the upper parts of the building. Because this Order, 
as more secure and stable than the others, has always 
' much pleasedDute^Sosimo, he desires that the building, 
which he has charged me to construct for thirteen civil 
magistrates of his city and dominion, should be of the 
Doric Order. This building is to have splendid decoration 
in stone, and is to be placed between his own palace and 
the river Arno.^ Therefore, in order to bring back into 
use the true mode of construction, which requires the 
architraves to lie level over the columns, and avoid the 
falsity of turning the arches of the arcades above the 
capital, I have followed in the principal fa9ade the actual 
method of the ancients, as can be seen in the edifice. This 
fashion of building has been avoided by architects of the 
recent past, because stone architraves of every sort both 
ancient and modern are all, or the greater part of them, 
seen to be broken in the middle, notwithstanding that 
above the solid of the columns and of the architraves, 
frieze, and cornice, there are flat arches of brick that are 
not in contact with and do not load the work below. Now, 
after much consideration on the whole question, I have 
finally found an excellent way of putting into use the true 
mode of proceeding so as to give security to the said 
architraves, by which they are prevented from suffering 
in any part and everything remains as sound and safe as 
can be desired, as the result has proved. This then, is 
the method, that is stated here below for the benefit of 
the world at large and of the artificers. 

'The building referred to is the well-known Uffizi palace at Florence. See 
ante, p. S9- 
















° ^ 












§ 22. A constructive device to avoid charging 
Having set up the columns, and above the capitals the 
architraves, which are brought into contact the one with 
the other above the middle axis of the column, the builder 
proceeds to make a square block or die (D, D, Fig. 5). 
For example, if the column be a braccio thick and the 
architraves the same in width ^ and height, let the die in 
the frieze be made equal to them ; but in front let there 
remain an eighth in the face for the vertical joint, and 
let another eighth or more have a sinking into the die on 
each side, bevelled to an angle of 45°, Fig. 5 (i). Then 
since the frieze in each intercolumniation is in three pieces 
(B, A, B), let the two at the sides (B, B) have bevelled pro- 
jections in the opposite sense to the sinkings, increasing 
from within outwards. Fig. 5 (2), so that each may be 
mortised in the die and be keyed after the manner of an 
arch, and in the front the amount of the eighth must 
bond vertically; while the part on the other side must 

^ The construction described by Vasari is evidently of the kind indicated in the 
accompanying drawing, Fig. 5. The pieces of the frieze are joggled one into 
the other so as to form a flat arch, but the construction is kept to the inner part 
and the face shows vertical joints between the pieces. As this passage in Vasari 
seems to have escaped the notice of those interested in Renaissance construction, 
the existence of the device he describes has remained unsuspected and nothing is 
known about it at the Uffizi itself. The fact is that Vasari's system has succeeded 
in one way too perfectly for his purpose. Everything has remained ' safe and 
sound,' and no one of the architrave beams shows signs of failure, so that no 
technical examination of the fabric has been called for. On the other hand, 
neither the artificers nor the world at large seem to have benefitted by Vasari's 
kindness, for the books do not notice his device. There is no mention of it even 
in the huge work on Tuscan Renaissance architecture now just completed under 
the editorship of Baron Henri de Geymuller, nor in Raschdorff 's Palast-Architectur, 
nor Durm's Baukunst der Renaissance, though references to it may possibly occur 
in older books that have escaped our notice. Joggled lintels forming flat arches 
are of course common enough. The new Parhament Building at Stockholm shows 
them conspicuously with the actual joints appearing on the face of the building. 
Mediaeval and Renaissance fireplaces often have lintels of the kind, as in Conings- 
burgh Castle, Yorks, and Linlithgow Palace. 

'i.e. width on the soffit, or, as it might be expressed, in depth from the outer 
face inwards. 


do the same to the other die. And so above the column ^ 
one must arrange that the piece in the middle of the said 
frieze closes within and is recessed in quarter-round form 
up to the middle, while the other half must be squared 
and straight and set with an empty space below, in order 
that it may hold as does an arch, the wall on the external 
face appearing worked with vertical joints.^ Do not let 
the stones of the said frieze rest on the architrave, but let 
a finger's breadth be between them ; in this way, making 
an arch, the frieze comes to support itself and does not 
burden the architrave. Afterwards make on the inside, 
for filling up the said frieze, a flat arch of bricks as high 
as the frieze, that .stretches from die to die above the 
columns. Then make a piece of cornice as wide as the 
die ^° above the columns, which has the joints in front like 
those of the frieze, and within let the said cornice be 
keyed like the blocks of the frieze, care being taken to 
make the cornice, as the frieze, in three pieces, of which 
the two at the sides hold from within the middle piece of 
the cornice above the die of the frieze, ^^ and mind that 

' 'Sopra la colonna.' This does not mean strictly the piece vertically above the 
column, which is the die (dado quadro) already mentioned. It is equivalent to 
the expression just below 'sopra le colonne,' and means simply 'in the upper 
part.' The piece referred to is A, A, in Fig. 5, the ' pezzo del mezzo ' of the text 
as quoted below. 

° ' Cosl si faccia sopra la colonna, che il pezzo del mezzo di detto fregio stringa 
di dentro, e sia intaccato a quartabuono infino a mezzo ; I'altra mezza sia squadrata 
e diritta e messa a cassetta, perchfe stringa a uso d'arco mostrando di fuori essere 
murata diritta.' The sense of this sentence seems to be indicated by the drawing 
Fig. 5. The centre pieces A, A, will slip down into their places and in a fashion 
key the flat arch. There is the same construction in the cornice, see below. 

■"' The dimension here implied is not the width on the face from right to left, but 
the soffit-width, or depth from the outer face inwards. The dies and the cornice- 
pieces are of the same soffit-width as the architrave, but the frieze pieces are so 
much narrower as to allow space behind them for => flat arch of brick abutting at 
each end on that part of the die that exceeds in soffit-width the frieze. See plan, 
Fig. 5 (4), and section, Fig. 5 (5). The plan is at the level x, y. 

" 'Sopra il dado del fregio' see note on ' Sopra la colonna.' The middle piece 
which goes 'a cassetta,' i.e. spanning a void, is at the centre of the inter- 
columniation, not vertically over the die above the column. 


the middle piece of the cornice, C, C, slips down into 
the sinkings so as to span the void, and unites the two 
pieces at the sides so as to lock them in the form of an 
arch. In this fashion everyone can see that the frieze 
sustains itself, as does the cornice, which rests almost 
entirely on the arch of bricks. ^^ Thus one thing helping 
another, it comes about that the architrave does not sustain 
any but its own weight, nor is there danger of its ever 
being broken by too heavy a load. Because experience 
shows this method to be the most sure, I have wished to 
make particular mention of it, for the convenience and 
benefit of all; especially as I know that when the frieze 
and the cornice were put above the architrave as was 
the practice of the ancients, the latter broke in course of 
time, possibly on account of an earthquake or other 
accident, the arch of discharge which was introduced above 
the cornice not being sufficient to preserve it. But throw- 
ing the arches above the cornices made in this form, and 
linking them together with iron, as usual, ^^ secures the 
whole from every danger and makes the building endure 

Returning to .the matter in hand, let us explain then 
that this fashion of work may be used by itself alone, 
or can be employed in the second floor from the ground 
level, above the Rustic Order, or it can be put higher up 
above another variety of Order such as Ionic, Corinthian 
or Composite, in the manner shown by the ancients in 
the Colosseum in Rome, in which arrangement they used 
skill and judgement. The Romans, having triumphed not 
only over the Greeks but over the whole world, put the 
Composite Order at the top, of which Order the Tuscans 
have composed many varieties. They placed it above all, 

^^P'ig. 5 (4) and (5) show the nature of the construction across from the 
fa9ade inwards. The corridor is spanned with a barrel vault that conceals the 
back of the entablature. It starts from the top of the architrave. 

" For this use of iron ties, which Vasari regards here as normal, see the illustra- 
tion on p. 25 of Professor Durm's Baukunst der Renaissance in Italien, in the 
Handbuch der Architectur, Stuttgart, 1903. 


as superior in force, grace, and beauty, and as more strik- 
ing than the others, to be a crown to the building; for to 
be adorned with beautiful members gives to the work an 
honourable completion and leaves nothing more to be 

§ 23. The proportions and parts of the Doric Order. 

To return to the Doric Order, I may state that the 
column is made seven heads in height. Its pedestal must 
be a little less than a square and a half in height and a 
square in width, ^* then above are placed its mouldings 
and beneath its base with torus and two fillets, as Vitruvius 
directs. The base and capital are of equal height, reckon- 
ing the capital from the astragal upwards. The cornice 
with the frieze and architrave attached projects over every 
column, with those grooved features, usually called 
triglyphs, which have square spaces ^^ interposed between 
the projections, within which are the skulls of oxen, or 
trophies, or masks, or shields, or other fancies. The 
architrave, jutting out, binds these projections with a fillet, 

"The expression is a little awkward, but the meaning evidently is that the 
pedestal is half as high again as it is wide. There is some doubt whether the 
•clause ' then above are placed 'to "as Vitruvius directs ' refers to the pedestal or 
the column itself. In the case of all the other Orders Vasari mentions the upper 
and lower mouldings of the pedestal, and it would be most natural to imagine him 
doing so here, but the ' torus and two fillets (bastone e due piani) as Vitruvius 
directs' sounds more like the 'Attic' base of the column, and the reference to 
Vitruvius should be conclusive that it is not the pedestal of which there is question, 
for the good reason that Vitruvius knows nothing of the pedestal under the single 
column of any of the Orders. Such a. feature does occur in classical work, as in 
the temple at Assisi, but it is not a normal classical form, and architectural 
purists in modern times reject it. Vitruvius is however again referred to by Vasari 
in this connection, in §25, and Giorgio may have in his mind the sentence in 
Vitruvius, in, iv, 5, in which there is a reference to the mouldings on the 
■continuous podium that serves as the substructure of the Roman temple, and 
forms one difference between it and the Greek temple. The single pedestal was 
often used in Renaissance work, and Vasari regards it as a matter of course. 

^' The metopes ; these are always set back a little behind the face of the 
triglyphs, which are here termed the projections. The metope offers a suitable 
field for carved ornaments. 


and under the fillet are little strips square in section, at 
the foot of each of which are six drops, called by the 
ancients ' guttae ' (goccie). If the column in the Doric order 
is to be seen fluted, there must be twenty hollow facets 
instead of flutes, ^^ and nothing between the flutes but the 
sharp arris. Of this sort of work there is an example 
in Rome at the Forum Boarium which is most rich;^'^ 
and of another sort are the mouldings and other members 
in the theatre of Marcellus, where to-day is the Piazza 
Montanara, in which work there are no bases (to the 
Doric columns) and those bases which are visible are 
Corinthian. It is thought that the ancients did not make 
bases, but instead placed there a pedestal of the same 
size as the base would have been. This is to be met with 
in Rome by the prison of the Tullianum where also are 
capitals richer in members than others which appear in 
the Doric Order. ^^ Of this same order Antonio da San 

^'Vasari merely has in mind the familiar difference in form between the Doric 
and Ionic flutes, the former being much shallower than the latter, and not showing 
the plain strip or fillet which in the Ionic column comes between every two of the 

^' The reference probably is to the portion of the ancient Basilica Aemilia, which 
in Vasari's time still stood erect where recent excavations have revealed the plan 
and part of the architectural members of this famous structure. We must bear in 
mind that what Vasari and his contemporaries called the ' Forum Boarium ' was 
not the part between the Capitol and the Palatine, near the ' Bocca della Verita ' 
which was the ancient Cattle Market and now has resumed its antique name, but 
the Forum proper, which used even in the memory of those now living to be 
called 'Campo Vaccino.' It seems to have derived the name 'Forum Boarium' 
from this very fragment of the Basilica Aemilia which Vasari has in his mind in 
this passage. The fragment was figured by Giuliano da San Gallo in a drawing 
in the Barberini Library, which is reproduced in Monumenti dell' Istituto, 
XII, T. II, 12, and from this, by the kind permission of the Imperial German 
Archaeological Institute, has been taken Fig. 6. The destruction of this most 
interesting fragment, which stood over against the arch of Septimius Severus, 
is one of the many almost inconceivable acts of vandalism of which the men 
of the later Renaissance period were guilty. The richness of which Vasari 
speaks can be seen in the illustration. 

18 Here again Renaissance and modern topographical nomenclature do not 
agree. What Vasari knew as the ' Tullianum ' was not the familiar ' Career 
Mamertinus' above the Forum on the way up to S. Maria in Araceli, but certain 



Fig. 6. — Drawing by Giuliano da San Gallo of a portion of the Basilica Aemilia in the 
Roman Forum, that survived to the time of Va,sari. 



Gallo has made the inner court of the Casa Farnese in 
the Campo di Fiore at Rome, which is highly decorated 
and beautiful; thus one sees continually ancient and 
modern temples and palaces in this style, which for 
stability and assemblage of the stones have held together 
better and lasted longer than all other edifices. 

§ 24. The Ionic Order. 

The Ionic Order, more slender than the Doric, was 
made by the ancients in imitation of persons who stand 
mid-way between the fragile and the robust; a proof of 
this is its adoption in works dedicated to Apollo, Diana, 
and Bacchus, and sometimes to Venus. The pedestal 
which sustains the column is one and a half squares high 
and one wide, and the mouldings, above and below, are 
in accordance with this Order, Its column measures in 
height eight times the head, and its base is double with 

antique structures under the church of S. Nicola in Carcere, near the 

Piazza Montanara. These were the 'favissae' 
or cells within the structure of the podium 
or platform of one of several ancient Roman 
temples on this site, which was formerly 
the ' Forum Olitorium.' These substructures 
are now accessible, and the worthy sacristan of 
the church who shows them is still of opinion 
that he has in charge the prison of the Tul- 
lianum. One of the travertine columns of one 
of these temples is to be seen within the 
church, and this though Doric is extremely 
simple, even rude, in its outline. Dr. Huelsen 
has however in a. recent paper (Mitteilungen 
d. k. deutschen Archaeologischen Instiiuts, XXI, 
169 f.) shown that this column was originally 
finished with stucco, in which somewhat elaborate 
mouldings were worked. It was drawn by 
several of the Renaissance architects, and Per- 
uzzi notes it as being 'in carcere Tulliano.' 
Huelsen has drawn out a scheme of the 
mouldings in profile and this is reproduced by 
permission in Fig. 7. It will be seen that 

Fig. 7.— Roman Doric cap, with 
scucco finish, at S. Nicola in 
Carcere, Rome. 

Vasari's remark about its richness in membering is quite justified. 


two tori, as described by Vitruvius in tiie third cliapter 
of liis third book. Its capital with its volutes or scrolls 
or spirals, as anyone may call them, should be well 
turned, as one sees in the theatre of Marcellus in Rome, 
above the Doric Order; and its cornice adorned with 
modillions and with dentils, and its frieze slightly convex 
(pulvinated). Should it be desired to flute the columns, 
there must be twenty-four flutes, but divided in such a 
manner as to leave between each two of them a flat piece 
that measures the fourth part of the flute. This order 
has in itself the. most beautiful lightness and grace and 
is consequently a'dopted by modern architects. 

§ 25. The Corinthian Order. 

The Corinthian style was invariably a favourite among 
the Romans, who delighted in it so greatly that they 
chose this Order for their most elaborate and most prized 
buildings to remain as a memorial of themselves; as is 
seen in the Temple at Tivoli above the Teverone, in the 
remains of the temple of Peace,^^ in the arch of Pola, 
and in that of the harbour of Ancona; but much more 
beautiful is the Pantheon, that is the Ritonda of Rome. 
This Order is the richest and most decorated of all the 
Orders spoken of above. The pedestal that supports the 
column is measured in the following way; a square and 
two thirds wide (high) ^° and the mouldings above and 
below in proportion, according to Vitruvius 21 : the height 
of the column nine heads with base and capital, which last 
shall be in height the diameter of the column at the foot, 
and its base half of the said thickness. This base the 
ancients used to carve in various ways. Let the ornament 

" Vasari probably refers to the great Corinthian column which was still to be 
seen in his time in the interior of the Basilica of Constantine (formerly called the 
Temple of Peace). The column was placed early in the seventeenth century in 
the Piazza in front of S. Maria Maggiore, where it is still in evidence. 

" ' Largo ' is the word in the text, but it must be merely a clerical error for 

''See Note 14, ante, p. 75. 


of the capital be fashioned with its tendrils and its leaves, 
as Vitruvius directs in the fourth book, where he records 
that this capital has been taken from the tomb of a 
Corinthian girl. Then follow its proper architrave, frieze 
and cornice measured as he describes, all carved with the 
modillions and ovolos and other sorts of carving under 
the drip. The friezes of this Order may be carved with 
leafage, or again they may be plain, or adorned with 
letters of bronze let into marble, as those on the portico 
of the Ritonda. There are twenty-six flutes in the 
Corinthian columns, although sometimes also there are 
fewer, and the fourth part of the width of each flute remains 
flat between every two, as is evident in many ancient 
works and in modern works copied from the ancients. 

§ 26. The Composite Order. 

The Composite Order, although Vitruvius has not made 
mention of it — having taken account of none others than 
the Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Tuscan, and holding 
those artists lawless, who, taking from all four Orders, 
constructed out of them bodies that represented to him 
monsters rather than men- — the Composite Order has 
nevertheless been much used by the Romans and in 
imitation of them by the moderns. I shall therefore pro- 
ceed, to the end that all may have notice of it, to explain 
and give the proportions of buildings in this Order also, 
for I am convinced of this, that if the Greeks and Romans 
created these first four Orders and reduced them to a 
general rule and measure, there may have been those who 
I have done the same for the Composite Order, forming 
' of it things much more graceful than ever did the ancients. 
As an example of the truth of this I quote the works 
of Michelagnolo Buonarroti in the Sacristy and Library 
of Sarr^Eorenzo in Florence, where the doors, niches, 
bases, columns, capitals, mouldings, consoles and indeed 
all the details, have received from him something of the 
new and of the Composite Order, and nevertheless are 


wonderful, not to say beautiful. The same merit in even 
greater measure is exhibited by the said Michelagnolo in 
the second story of the Court of the Casa Farnese22 and 
again in the cornice which supports on the exterior the 
roof of that palace. He who wishes to see in this manner 
of work the proof of this man's excellence — of truly celestial 
origin — in art and design of various kinds, let him consider 
that which he has accomplished in the fabric of St. Peter's 
in compacting together the body of that edifice and in mak- 
ing so many sorts of various and novel ornaments, such 
beautiful profiles of mouldings, so many different niches 
and numerous other things, all invented by him and 
treated differently from the custom of the ancients. There- 
fore no one can deny that this new Composite Order, 
which through Michelagnolo has attained to such perfec- 
tion, may be worthily compared with the others. In 
truth, the worth and capacity of this truly excellent 
sculptor, painter, and architect have worked miracles 
wherever he has put forth his hand. Besides all the other 
things that are clear as daylight, he has rectified sites 
which were out of the straight and reduced to perfection 
many buildings and other objects of the worst form, 
covering with lovely and fanciful decoration Jhe defects 
^fji ature and ait.^^ In our days certain vulgar architects, 

2= See Note 86, ante, p. 53. 

''''On Michelangelo's use of architectural details M. Garnier had some rather 
severe remarks in the Gazette des Beaux Arts for Jan. I, 1876. He denied to 
him an understanding of the grammar of the use of such forms. It is generally 
admitted that for the details of the JTarnese cornice, the fittings and decoration 
of the Library of S. Lorenzo, and other such works to which his name attaches, 
he was indebted to professional architects, such as Vignola, whom he employed. 
We must never forget however that we owe to Michelangelo the dome of St 
Peter's, one of the greatest architectural creations of its kind in the world. In 
mentioning the 'siti storti' (sites that were irregular or out of the straight), 
Vasari probably had in view the design for laying out the Capitol," which is 
another of Michelangelo's acknowledged successes. Here the existing Palazzo 
dei Conservatori stood somewhat askew and the site was regularized to corre- 
spond with the line of its fagade. All this about Michelangelo was added for the 
second edition, after Vasari had himself worked at his master's staircase at 
S. Lorenzo. 



not considering these tilings judiciously and not imitating 
them, have worked presumptuously and without design 
almost as if by chance, without observing ornament, art, 
or any order. All their things are monstrous and worse 
than the German. 

Returning now to our subject, it has become usual for 
this manner of work to be called by some the * Composite,' 
by others the 'Latin,' and by others again the 'Italic' 
Order. The measure of the height of this column must 
be ten heads, the base the half of the diameter of the 
column, measured in the same way as the Corinthian 
column, as we see in the arch of Titus Vespasianus in 
Rome. And he who wishes to make flutes in this column 
can do so, following the plan of the Ionian or Corinthian 
column — or in any way that pleases him who adopts 
this style of architecture, which is a mixture of all the 
Orders. The capitals may be made like those of the 
Corinthian except that the echinus moulding of the capital 
must be larger and the volutes or tendrils somewhat larger, 
as we see in the above mentioned arch. The architrave 
must be three quarters of the thickness of the column 
and the rest of the frieze supplied with modillions, and 
the cornice equal to the architrave, because the projection 
gives the cornice an increase of size, as one sees in the 
uppermost story of the Roman Colosseum ; and in the 
said modillions grooves can be cut after the manner of 
triglyphs, and there can be other carving according to the 
taste of the architect; the pedestal on which the column 
rests must be two squares high, with the mouldings just 
as he pleases. 

§ 27. Of Terminal Figures. 

The ancients_ were accustomed to use for doors or 
sepulchres or other kinds of enrichment, various sorts of 
terminal figures instead of columns, here a figure which 
has a basket on the head for capital, there a figure down 


to the waist, the rest, towards the base, a cone or a tree 
trunk ; in the same way they made virgins, chubby infants, 
satyrs, and other sorts of monsters or grotesque objects, 
just as it suited them, and according as the ideas occurred 
to them so the works were put into operation. 

§ 28. German Work (the Gothic Style). 

We come at last to another sort of work called German, 
which both in ornament and in proportion is very different 
from the ancient and the modern. Nor is it adopted 
now by the best architects but is avoided by them as 
monstrous and barbarous, and lacking everything that 
can be called order. Nay it should rather be called con- 
fusion and disorder. In their buildings, which are so 
numerous that they sickened the world, doorways are 
ornamented with columns which are slender and twisted 
like a screw, and cannot have the strength to sustain a 
weight, however light it may be. Also on all the fagades, 
and wherever else' there is enrichment, they built a male- 
diction of little niches one above the other, with no end 
of pinnacles and points and leaves, so that, not to speak 
of the whole erection seeming insecure, it appears impos- 
sible that the parts should not topple over at any moment. 
Indeed they have more the appearance of being made 
of paper than of stone or marble. In these works they 
made endless projections and breaks and corbellings and 
flourishes that throw their works all out of proportion ; 
and often, with one thing being put above another, they 
reach such a height that the top of a door touches the 
roof. This manner was the invention of the Goths, for,\ 
after they had ruined the ancient buildings, and killed 1 
the architects in the wars, those who were left constructed) 
the buildings in this style.^* They turned the arches with 

" See Note on ' Vasari's Opinion on Mediaeval Architecture ' at the close of the 
'Introduction' to Architecture, postea, p. 133 f. The phrase 'this manner was ^ 
the invention of the Goths,' etc., is historically important as the firsHntiodllCtioai 
into literature of the familiar architectural term 'Gothic' 


pointed segments, and filled all Italy with these abomina- 
tions of buildings, so in order not to have any more of 
them their style has been totally abandoned. 

May God protect every country from such ideas and 
style of buildings ! They are such deformities in com- 
parison with the beauty of our buildings that they are 
not worthy that I should talk more about them, and 
therefore let us pass on to speak of the vaults. 


On forming Vaults in Concrete, to be impressed with Enrichment : when 
the Centerings are to be removed, and how to mix the Plaster. 

§ 29. The Construction of enriched Stucco Vaults. 

When walls have reached the point where the arches of 
brick or light stone or tufa have to spring, it is necessary 
to turn a centering with planks in a close circle, over the 
framework of struts or boarding. The planks are fitted 
together according to the form of the vault, or in the 
shape of a boat, and this centering for the vaults must 
be fixed with strong props in whatever mode you wish, 
so that the material above does not strain it by its weight ; 
and afterwards every crevice, in the middle, in the corners, 
and everywhere, must be firmly stopped up with clay so 
that when the concrete is spread the mixture shall not 
filter through. This finished, above that surface of 
boards they make caissons of wood, which are to be 
worked contrariwise, with projections where a hollow is 
wanted; in the same way let the mouldings and details 
that we wish to make be worked by opposites, so that 
when the material is cast, it may come, where (the mould 
is) hollow, in relief; where in relief, hollow, and thus 
similarly must all the members of the mouldings be 
arranged. Whether the vault is to be smooth or enriched, 
it is equally necessary to have shapes of wood, which 
mould the desired forms in clay; with this clay also are 
made the square panels for such decoration, and these are 
joined the one to the other on the flat or by mouldings 
or enriched bands, which can be made to follow the line 
of this centering. Having finished covering it all with 
enrichments of clay, formed in intaglio and fitted together. 


as was said above, one must then take lime, with pozzolana 
earth or sand riddled finely, mixed liquid and mostly 
lime, and of that lay evenly a coating over all, till every 
mould is full. Afterwards, above this coating make the 
vault with bricks, raising or lowering them according as 
the vault turns, and continually adding till the arch be 
closed. This done, it must all be left to set and get firm, 
till the work be dry and solid. ^ Then when the props are 
removed and the vault is left free, the clay is easily taken 
away and all the worJj remains modelled and worked as 
if done in stucco, and those parts that have not come out 
well are gone over with stucco till they are complete. In 
this manner have been executed all the works in the ancient 
edifices, which had afterwards stucco enrichment upon 
them. This the moderns have done to-day in the vaults 
of St. Peter's, and many other masters throughout Italy 
have done the same. 

§ 30. Stucco made with Marble Dust. 
Now let us show how the stucco is mixed .^ Chips of 
marble are pounded in a stone mortar ; no other lime is 
used for this stucco save white lime made either of marble 
chips or of travertine ; instead of sand the pounded marble 
is taken and is sifted finely and kneaded with the lime, 
in the proportion of two thirds lime to one third pounded 
marble. The stucco is made coarser or finer, according 
as one wishes to work coarsely or finely. Enough now 
of stuccoes because the rest will be said later, when I shall 
treat of them in connection with Sculpture. Before 
passing to this subject, we shall speak briefly of fountains 
which are made for walls and of their various ornaments. 

'Vasari makes no provision for Tainding together the vault in stucco and 
that in brick. Each is apparently independent of the other, though they are 
in contact, and no keys are formed in the upper surface of the stucEO for the 
purpose of tieing it to the brickwork above. 

" This same subject is treated in the sixth jchapter of the ' Introduction ' to 
Sculpture and the thirteenth of that to Painting. In connection with it see 
Note on 'Stucco Grotesques' at the close of the 'Introduction' to Painting, 
postea, p. sgg. 


How Rustic Fountains are made with Stalactites and Incrustations from 
water, and how Cockle shells and Conglomerations of vitrified stone 
are built into the Stucco. 

§ 31. Grottoes and Fountains of ' Rocaille ' work. 

The fountains which the ancients made for their palaces, 
gardens, and other places, were of different kinds; some 
stood alone, with basins and vases of different sorts, others 
were attached to the walls, and bore niches with masks, 
figures, or ornaments suggesting the sea; others again 
for use in hot baths, were simpler and plainer, and finally 
others resembled woodland springs that rise naturally in 
the groves; while those which the moderns have made 
and continue to make are also of different kinds. The 
moderns, always varying them, have added to the inven- 
tions of the ancients, compositions of Tuscan work,^ 
covered with stalactites from petrified waters, which hang 
down resembling roots, formed in the lapse of time of con- 
gelations of such waters as are hard and are charged with 
sediment. These exist not only at Tivoli, where the river 
Teverone petrifies the branches of trees, and all objects 
that come in contact with it, turning them into gum-like 
exudations and stalactites; but also at the lake Pih di 

^ The ' Tuscan work ' referred to here is the same thing as the ' lavoro 
chiamato rustico' of which Vasari writes at the beginning of the third chapter 
(§ 20). The so-called Tuscan Order was the simplest and heaviest of all, and 
so most suited for work that partook of the rough and unpolished character of 
natural rock. For the same reason, as was seen above, ante, p. 65, the 
Tuscan Order lends itself best to association with bossy or 'rusticated' 


Lupo,2 where the stalactites are very large; and in 
Tuscany at the river Elsa,^ whose water makes them clear 
so that they look like marble, glass, or artificial crystals. 
But the most beautiful and curious of all are found behind 
Monte Morello* also in Tuscany, eight miles from 
Florence. Of this sort Duke Cosimo has had made in 
his garden at Olmo near Castello^ the rustic ornaments 
of the fountains executed by the s(^ulptor Tribolo. These 
stalactites removed from where nature has produced them 
are introduced into work done by the artificer and fixed 
with iron bars, with branches soldered with lead or in 
some other way, or they are grafted into the stones so 
as to hang suspended. They are fixed on to the Tuscan 
work in such a way as to leave it here and there exposed 
to view. Then by adjusting leaden tubes hidden between 
these stalactites, and distributing holes among them, jets 
of water are made to pour out, when a key at the entrance 
of the conduit is turned; and thus are arranged pipes 
for water and various jets through which the water rains 
I down among the incrustations of these stalactites, and in 
falling sounds sweet to the ear and is beautiful to the eye. 
There is also another kind of grotto, of a more rustic 
fashion, imitating sylvan fountains in the following way. 
Some take sponge-like stones and joining them together 

^ Fife di Lupo. This is clearly a mistake for Fife di Lugo, for at the lake of 
that name above the great Cascade of Terni, there are appearances corre' 
sponding exactly with what Vasari says. It is remarked in Hare's Days near 
Rome, II, p. 141, that the waters of the Vellino, which makes the fall, are 
'so strongly impregnated with carbonate of lime, that they constantly tend to 
form a deposit of travertine, and so to block up their own channel.' 

'The Elsa flows from the Apennines by CoUe and Castelfiorentino to join 
the Arno by S. Miniato, halfway between Florence and Pisa. The valley was 
the birthplace of Cennino Cennini, the author of the Trattato. 

* Monte Morello, 3065 ft., is the conspicuous height to the north of 
Florence, which serves the populace for a weather-glass. 
' Quando Monte Morello 
Ha il cappello 
Frendi I'ombrello.' 

" A few miles to the north west of Florence. 


sow grass over them, thus, with an order which appears 
disorder and wild, the grottoes are rendered very natural 
and real. Others make smoother and more polished 
grottoes of stucco, in which are mingled both stones and 
stucco, and while the stucco is fresh they insert, in bands 
and compartments, knobs • or bosses, cockle shells, sea 
snails, tortoise shells, shells large and small, some showing 
the outside and some the reverse : and of these they make 
flower vases and festoons, in which the cockle shells 
represent the leaves, and other varieties of shells the 
fruit ; ^ and to these they add shells of turtles, as is seen 
in the vineyard at the foot of Monte Mario that Pope 
Clement VII, when still Cardinal, had made by the advice 
of Giovanni da Udine.'' 

Again a rustic and very beautiful mosaic in many 
colours is made by using little bits of old bricks that have 
been too much baked, and pieces of glass which has run 
owing to the pans of glass bursting in an overheated 
furnace. The work is done by sticking these bits into 
the stucco on the wall as was said above, and arranging 
between them corals and other spoils from the sea, things 
in themselves full of grace and beauty. Thus are made 
animals and figures, covered with the shells already 
mentioned as well as with coloured pastes in various pieces 
arranged in rustic fashion, very quaint to look upon. 
There have been many fountains of this kind recently 
set up at Rome, which by their charm have incited the 

* These fanciful conceits have a significance for the history of ornament which 
they hardly seem to deserve. Artificial grottoes of the kind Vasari describes 
were very popular in the France of the eighteenth century, and pleased the 
taste of the sophisticated society of the time with an artificial 'nature,' that 
corresponded to the affected pastoral style in literature. From the shell and 
stalactite decoration of these grottoes was evolved the ornamental style 
characteristic of the age of Louis XV, the shell-like forms of which betray its 
origin. The name commonly given to this ornament, that consists in little but 
a graceful play of curved forms, is ' rococo,' and this word is connected with 
' rocaille,' a regular French term for fantastic grotto-work of the kind here 
under notice. 

'The well-known 'Villa Madama.' 


minds of countless persons to be lovers of such work. 
Another kind of ornament entirely rustic is also used 
now-a-days for fountains, and is applied in the following 
manner. First the skeleton of the figure or any other 
object desired is made and plastered over with mortar or 
stucco, then the exterior is covered in the fashion of 
mosaic, with pieces of white or coloured marble, according 
to the object designed, or else with certain little many 
coloured pebbles : and these when carefully worked have 
a long life. The stucco with which they build up and 
work these things is the same that we have before 
described, and when once set it holds them securely on 
the walls. To such fountains pavements are made of 
sling-stones, that is, round and flat river pebbles, set on 
edge and in ripples as water goes, with excellent effect. 
Others, for the finer fountains, make pavements with little 
tiles of terra cotta in various divisions and glazed in the 
fire, as in clay vases painted in various colours and with 
painted ornaments and leafage ; but this sort of pavement 
is more suitable for hot-air chambers and baths than for 

8 One of the best existing examples of these ' rustic ' grottoes and fountains is 
that constructed by Buontalenti in the Boboli Gardens near the eastern entrance. 
As part of its decoration there are Wit in four marble figures, supposed to have 
been sketched out by Michelangelo for the tomb of Julius. A view of the 
interior of this grotto is given on Plate IV. The statue in the corner is one of 
the four noticed above, while a little above it and to the left is one of the 
grotesque figures incrusted with odds and ends, which Vasari praises as so 





f^ o 









On the manner of making Pavements of Tesselated Work. 

§ 32. Mosaic Pavements. 

There are no possible devices in any department that 
the ancients did not find out or at any rate try very hard 
to discover, — devices I mean that bring delight and 
refreshment to the eyes of men. They invented then, 
among other beautiful things, stone pavements diversified 
with various blendings of porphyry, serpentine, and 
granite, with round and square or other divisions, whence 
they went on to conceive the fabrication of ornamental 
bands, leafage, and other sorts of designs and figures. 
Therefore to prepare the work the better to receive such 
treatment, they cut the marble into little pieces, so that 
these being small they could be turned about for the back- 
ground and the field, in round schemes or lines straight 
or twisted, as came most conveniently. From the joining 
together of these pieces they called the work mosaic,^ and 

'The ultimate derivation of the word 'mosaic' is a difficult problem. Its 
immediate parent is the late- Latin ' musivum ' which is generally connected 
with the Greek liovo-eior, meaning a ' place of the Muses.' With this significance, 
the Greek word in its Latinized form, ' museum ' is suitably applied to collections 
of works of art and similar objects of aesthetic interest and value. A ' place 
of the Muses' may however be of a different kind. The Muses, like other 
nymphs, were worshipped in grottoes as guardian genii of fountains, and Pliny, 
ffist. Nat., XXXVI, 21, writes of ' erosa saxa in aedificiis, quae musaea vocant, 
dependentia ad imaginem specus arte reddendam,' where the suggestion is of 
a rustic grotto like that in the Boboli Gardens. Such grottoes, natural or 
artificial, might fittingly be decked with shells and coloured stones and any 
bright inlay that offered itself. If incrustations of the kind we call mosaic 
were actually met with in these haunts of the Muses, the work might readily 


used it in the pavements of many of their buildings, as 
we still see in the Baths of Caracalla in Rome and in 
other places, where the mosaic is made with little squares 
of marble, that form leaves, masks, and other fancies, 
while the background for these is composed of squares 
of white marble and other small squares of black. The 
work was set about in the following manner. First was 
spread a layer of fresh stucco of lime and marble dust 
thick enough to hold firmly in itself the pieces fitting into 
each other, so that when set they could be polished smooth 
on the top; these in the drying make an admirably com- 
pacted concrete, which is not hurt by the wear of foot- 
steps nor by water. Therefore this work having come 
into the highest estimation, clever people set themselves 
to study it further, as it is always easy to add something 
valuable to an invention already found out. So they made 
the marble mosaics finer, and of these, laid pavements 
both for baths and for hot rooms, and with the most 
subtle mastery and diligence they delicately fashioned 
various fishes in them, and imitated painting with many 

be called by a name suggestive of these same nymphs, and this might be 
applied later on to tesselated work in general. There is however no proof, 
either in Pliny or elsewhere, that what we call mosaic was actually so used, 
and it has been questioned by more than one authority whether there is 
really any connection between the word 'mosaic,' in its various forms, and 
the Muses. An oriental derivation has even been suggested for the term. 

Dr. Albert Ilg, in an exceedingly learned paper on the subject in the Wiener 
Quellenschrifien, Neue Folge, v, 158 f., offered an entirely new explanation 
of the word 'mosaic,' which he maintained had in its original sense nothing 
to do with inlaid work at all, but rather with gilding. He connected it with a 
root 'mus' or 'mos,' with a sense of 'beating' or 'grinding,' and instanced 
the mediaeval Latin term ' mosnerium,' which Ducange notices as equivalent 
to 'molendinum,' 'mill.' ' Musivum opus' would refer on this view to the 
gilding process in which the gold is ground to powder or beaten out ; and 
Ilg affirmed ' Musaicum im alten Sinne kann nur eigentlich Vergoldung, nicht 
das moderne Mosaik, bezeichnen.' If the word at first meant 'gilded work' 
it would later on be extended to what we know as 'mosaic,' because of the 
use in mediaeval mosaics of the familiar gold background. The argument of 
Dr. Ilg is not convincing, and the question must be considered still open. 
Theophilus, for example, Lib. II, c. 12, uses 'musivum opus' for inlaid work 
in which there is no question of gold. 


colours suitable for that work, and with many different 
sorts of marbles, introducing also among these some pieces 
cut into little mosaic squares of the bones of fishes which 
have a lustrous surface.^ And so life-like did they make 
the fishes, that water placed above them, veiling them a 
little, even though clear, made them appear actually alive 
in the pavements; as is seen in Parione in Rome, in the 
house of Messer Egidio and Fabio Sasso.^ 

§ 33- Pictorial Mosaics for Walls, etc. 

Therefore, this mosaic work appearing to them a picture, 
capable of resisting to all eternity water, wind, and sun- 
shine, and because they considered such work much more 
effective far off than near, the ancients disposed it so as 
to decorate vaults and walls, where such things had to 
be seen at a distance, for at a distance one would not 
perceive the pieces of mosaic which when near are easily 
distinguished. Then because the mosaics were lustrous 
and withstood water and damp, it was thought that such 
work might be made of glass, and so it was done, and 
producing hereby the most beautiful effect they adorned 
their temples and other places with it, as we still see in 
our own days at Rome in the Temple of Bacchus* and 
elsewhere.^ Just as from marble mosaics are derived 
those which we now call in our time glass mosaics, so 
from the mosaic of glass we have passed on to egg-shell 

^ Possibly what we call ' mother of pearl.' 

'See Note on 'The Sassi, della Valle, and other Collections,' etc., postea, 
p. 102 f. The mosaic here noticed is unfortunately lost. Lanciani, TAe Golden 
Days of the Renaissance in Rome, igo6, p. 234, states that he has searched for it 
in vain. 

^ See Note J, ante, p. 27. 

" Mosaics made up of 'small 'cubes of coloured or gilded glass are abundant 
in early Christian and Byzantine times, but were also used, though sparingly, 
by the Romans from the time of Augustus downwards. See Pliny, Hist. Nat., 
XXXVI, 189, who fixes the time of their introduction. 


mosaic,^ and from this to the mosaic in which figures and 
groups in light and shade are formed entirely of tesserae, 
though the effect is like painting; this we shall describe 
in its own place in the chapters on that art.^ 

° Egg-shell mosaic. See Note, postea, p. 136. 

' See Chapters xv and xvi of the ' Introduction ' to Painting. The pavement 
of the cathedral of Siena exhibits a large collection of such mosaics in black 
and white executed in different technical processes. 


How one is to recognize if a Building have good Proportions, and of 
what Members it should generally be composed. 

§ 34. The principles of Planning and Design. 

But since talking of particular things would make me 
turn aside too much from my purpose, I leave this minute 
consideration to the writers on architecture, and shall only 
say in general how good buildings can be recognized, and 
what is requisite to their form to secure both utility and 
beauty. Suppose then one comes to an edifice and wishes^ 
to see whether it has been planned by an excellent architect 
and how much ability he has shown, also whether the 
architect has known how to accommodate himself to the 
site, as well as to the wishes of him who ordered the 
structure to be built, one must consider the following^ 
questions. First, whether he who has raised it from the 
foundation has thought if the spoti were a suitable one 
and capable of receiving buildings of that style and extent, 
and (granted that the site is suitable) how the building 
should be di vided int o rnnms^ and how the e nrichment 
on the walls be disposed in view of the nature of the site 
which may be extensive or confined, elevated or low-lying. 
One must consider also whether the edifice has been taste- 
fully arranged and in convenient proportion, and whether 
there has Been furnished and distributed the proper kind 
and number of columns, windows, doors, and junctions 
of wall-faces, both within and without, in the given height 
and thickness of the walls; in short whether every detail 
is suitable in and for its own place. It is necessary that 


there should be distributed throughout the building, 
rooms which have their proper arrangement of doors, 
windows, passages, secret staircases, anterooms, lavatories, 
cabinets, and that no mistakes be apparent therein. For 
example there should be a large hall, a small portico or 
lesser apartments, which being members of the edifice, 
must necessarily, even as members of the human body, 
be equally arranged and distributed according to the style 
and complexity of the buildings.; just as there are temples 
round, or octagonal, or six sided, or square, or in the 
form of a cross, and also various Orders, according to 
the position and rank of the person who has the buildings 
constructed, for when designed by a skilful hand these 
exhibit very happily the excellence of the workman and 
the spirit of the author of the fabric. 

§ 35. An ideal Palace. 
To make the matter clearer, let us here imagine a 
palace,^ and this will give us light on other buildings, 
so that we may be able to recognize, when we see them, 
whether they are well fashioned or no. First, then, if we 
consider the principal front, we shall see it raised from 
the ground either above a range of outside stairs or base- 
ment walls, so that standing thus freely the building 
should seem to rise with grandeur from the ground, while 
the kitchens and cellars under ground are more clearly 
lighted and of greater elevation. This also greatly 
protects the edifice from earthquakes and other accidents 
of fortune. Then it must represent the body of a man 
in the whole and similarly in the parts; and as it has 
to fear wTh37 water, and other natural forces it should be 
drained with sewers, that must be all in connection with 
a central conduit that carries away all the filth and smells 
that might generate sickness. In its first aspect the fa9ade 
demands beauty and grandeur, and should be divided as 
is the face of a man. The door must be low down and 

1 See Note on ' Ideal Architecture ' at the close of the ' Introduction ' to 
Architecture, postea, p. 138. 


in the middle, as in the head the mouth of the man, 
through which passes every sort of food; the windows 
for the eyes, one on this side, one on that, observing 
always parity, that there be as much ornament, and as 
many arches, columns, pilasters, niches, jutting windows, 
or aay other sort of enrichment, on this side as on that; 
regard being had to the proportions and Orders already 
explained, whether Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, or Tuscan. 
The cornice which supports the roof must be made pro- 
portionate to the fa9ade according to its size, that rain- 
water may not drench the fafade and him who is seated 
at the street front. The projection must be in proportion 
to the height and breadth of the fa9ade. Entering within, 
let the first vestibule have a great amplitude, and let it 
be arranged to join fittingly with the entrance corridor, 
through which everything passes; let it be free and wide, 
so that the press of horses or of crowds on foot, that 
often congregate there, shall not do themselves any hurt 
in the entrance on fete days or on other brilliant occasions. 
The court-yard, representing the trunk, should be square 
and equal, or else a square and a half, like all the parts 
of the body, and within there should be doors and well- 
arranged apartments with beautiful decoration. The 
public staircase needs to be convenient and easy to ascend, 
of spacious width and ample height, but only in accordance 
with the proportion of the other parts. Besides all this, 
the staircases should be adorned or copiously furnished 
with lights, and, at least over every landing-place where 
there are turns, should have windows or other apertures. 
In short, the staircases demand an air of magnificence 
in every part, seeing that many people see the stairs and 
not the rest of the house. It may be said that they are 
the arms and legs of the body, therefore as the arms are 
at the sides of a man so ought the stairs to be in the 
wings of the edifice. Nor shall I omit to say that the 
height of the risers ought to be one fifth of a braccio at 
least,^ and every tread two thirds wide,^ that is, as has 

^ That is, about 44 inches. " About 15J inches. 



been said, in the stairs of public buildings and in others 
in proportion; because when they are steep neither 
children nor old people can go up them, and they make 
the legs ache. This feature is most difificult to place in 
buildings, and notwithstanding that it is the most fre- 
quented and most common, it often happens that in order 
to save the rooms the stairs are spoiled. It is also 
necessary that the reception rooms and other apartments 
downstairs should form one common hall for the summer, 
with chambers to accommodate many persons, while 
upstairs the parlours and saloons and the various apart- 
ments should all open into the largest one. In the same 
manner should be arranged the kitchens and other places, 
because if there were not this order and if the whole 
composition were broken up, one thing high, another low, 
this great and that small, it would represent lame men, 
halt, distorted, and maimed. Such works would merit 
only blame, and no praise whatever. When there are 
decorated wall-faces either external or internal, the com- 
positions must follow the rules of the Orders in the matter 
of the columns, so that the shafts of the columns be not 
too long nor slender, not over thick nor short, but that 
the dignity of the several Orders be always observed. 
Nor should a heavy capital or base be connected with a 
slender column, but in proportion to the body must be 
the members, that they may have an elegant and beautiful 
appearance and design. /All these things are best appreci- 
ated by a correct eye, which, if it have discrimination, can 
hold the true compasses and estimate exact measurements, 
because by it alone shall be awarded praise or blame./ 
And this is enough to have said in a general sense Oi 
architecture, because to speak of it in any other way is 
not matter for this place. 




[See ^ 2, Of Porphyry, ante, p. 26.] 

Porphyry, which is mineralogically described as consistingf 
of crystals of plagioclase felspar in a purple felspathic paste, 
is a very hard stone of beautiful colour susceptible of a high 
polish. 'No material,' it has been said, 'can approach it, 
either in colour, fineness of grain, hardness or toughness. 
When used alone its colour is always grand ; and in combina- 
tion with any other coloured material, although displaying its 
nature conspicuously, it is always harmonious ' (Transactions, 
Royal Institute of British Architects, 1887, p. 48). Though 
obtained, as Vasari knew, from Egypt, it was not known to 
the dynastic Egyptians, but was exploited with avidity by the 
Romans of the later imperial period. The earliest mention of 
it seems to be in Pliny, Hist. Nat., xxxvi, 11, under the name 
' porphyrites ' and statues in the material were according to 
this author sent for the first time to Rome from Egypt in the 
reign of Claudius. The new material was however not 
approved of, and for some time was by no means in fashion. 
It was not indeed till the age of the Antonines that as Helbig 
remarks ' the preference for costly and rare varieties of stone, 
without reference to their adaptability for sculpture, began to 
spread. ' After this epoch, the taste for porphyry and other 
such strongly marked or else intractable materials grew till 
it became a passion, and the Byzantine emperors carried on 
the tradition of its use inherited by them from the later days 
of paganism. The material was quarried in the mountains 


known as Djebel Duchan near the coast of the Red Sea, 
almost opposite the southern point of the peninsula of Sinai, 
and the Romans carried the blocks a distance of nearly loo 
miles to Koptos on the Nile whence they were transported 
down stream to Alexandria, where Mr Brindley thinks there 
would be reserve dep6ts where lapidaries and artists resided, 
a source of supply for the large quantities used by Constantine. 
The same authority estimates that there must be about 300 
monolith porphyry pillars still extant in Europe, the finest 
being the eight great columns under the side apses in S. 
Sophia, Constantinople. The most important of all porphyry 
monuments is the column, 100 feet high, which Constantine 
erected at Constantinople where it still stands though somewhat 
mutilated and damaged by fire. It consisted in nine cylindrical 
drums each 11 feet long and 11 feet in diameter. 

The quarries, as Vasari later on remarks, were in his time 
not known, and seem never to have been worked since the 
time of the Romans. The site of them was visited by Sir 
Gardner Wilkinson in 1823, and they were re-discovered by 
Mr Brindley in 1887. If they are again to be worked, the 
material will now be transferred to the Red Sea coast, distant 
only about 20 miles. Mr Brindley's account of his expedition, 
with notes on the material, is contained in the Transactions 
of the Royal Institute of British Architects for 1888. 


[See §§2, 32, ante, pp. 28, 93.] 

In chapters i and vi of the ' Introduction ' to Architecture 
Vasari refers to the ' casa di Egizio e di Fabio Sasso ' and 
the ' casa di messer Egidio e Fabio Sasso ' ' in Parione. ' 
Parione is that one of the 14 wards or ' rioni ' of Rome that 
lies to the south of the Piazza Navona, and according to 
Gregorovius {Geschichte der Stadt Rom im Mittelalter, Stutt., 
1886, etc.. Ill, 537) the name is connected with the Latin 
'parietes,' 'walls,' and was derived from the ruins of the 
Theatre of Pompeius, that bulked largely within its borders. 


There is now a ' Via Parione ' to the west of the Piazza 
Navona, but older plans of near Vasari's time show that the 
name was then applied to the more important thoroughfare 
south of the piazza, which is now called ' Via del Governo 
Vecchio. ' The truth is that the present Via Parione should 
be called, as marked on older maps, ' Via di S. Tommaso in 
Parione,' beside which church it runs, and should not have 
been allowed to usurp the old historical name. 

Among the families noted by Gregorovius as inhabiting this 
region were the Sassi, who, he says (vii, 708), possessed there 
' a great palace with many antiques. ' A notice of the Sassi, 
in the Archivio della R. Societa Romana di Storia Patria, 
Roma, vol. xx, p. 479, tells us that they were among the most 
illustrious families of the ' rione. ' In 1157 one Giovanni Sassi 
was a senator of Rome, and the family was especially flourish- 
ing in the fifteenth century, but later on declined. Branches 
of the Sassi stock still exist. When Vasari was in Rome in 
the service of the Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici, about 1530, one 
branch at any rate of the family was represented by a certain 
Fabio Sasso and his brother, whom Vasari calls ' Egidius ' 
but who appears in a document quoted by Lanciani (Storia 
degli Scavi di Roma, Roma, 1902, i, 177) as 'Decidius,' who 
possessed the family palace with its antiques, situated a little 
west of S. Tommaso in Parione. When Michaelis wrote the 
paper presently to be noticed, the exact situation of the palace 
was not identified, but the Conte Gnoli, the learned and 
courteous director of the Biblioteca Vittorio Emanuele, has 
pointed out the remains of the Sassi habitation at No. 48 in 
the present Via del Governo Vecchio, where an early Renais- 
sance doorway bears above it the cognizance of the family, 
and below on one jamb the syllable ' Dom ' and on the other 
' Sax ' (Domus Saxorum). The house in general, which is 
claimed by legend as the residence of Raphael's Fornarina, 
has been reconstructed. The plan. Fig. 8, is taken from 
a large map of Rome dating 1748 and shows this particularly 
interesting portion of the city as it was before recent changes. 
The line of the present Corso Vittorio Emanuele is shown 
by dotted strokes. 

By the middle of the sixteenth century the family fortunes 


had declined, and in his will made in 1556 Fabio records that 
he had let all his three houses in Parione. This may account 
for the fact that no Palazzo Sassi occurs in the lists of Roman 
palaces of the seventeenth century. Furthermore, in 1546 
the two brothers effected a sale of their antiques to the Duke 
Ottavio Farnese, who transferred them to the then newly 
erected Farnese palace. See text of Vasari, ante p. 28, and 
Lanciani, I.e. 

When Vasari first knew the Sassi collection it was one of 
the best in Rome, and Michaelis (Jahrbuch d. deutschen 
Archeologischen Instituts, 1891, p. 170) quotes two writers of 
the early part of the century who praise it. Moreover there 
exists a contemporary drawing of the antiques and the court 
in which they were kept, that Michaelis (I.e.) has published. 
The early notices just referred to, and the notes of Aldovrandi 
(Mauro, Le Antichita della Citta di Roma, Venet. 1556, p. 147) 
who saw the works in the Farnese collection in 1550, give 
prominence to the two pieces that are specially mentioned by 
Vasari. The ' figura a sedere di braccia tre e mezzo ' in 
porphyry (ante, p. 28) is described by Aldovrandi (p. 147) as 
' un bellissimo simulacro di una Roma trionfante assisa,' partly 
in porphyry and partly in bronze, and as having been formerly 
in the house of Messer Fabio Sasso. The statue has passed 
with the Farnese antiques to Naples, where it was numbered 
when Michaelis wrote, 212 b. It is now recognized as not 
a ' Rome ' but a seated Apollo fully draped, and is numbered 

The other one of the Sassi antiques mentioned by Vasari is 
referred to in the text § 7, ante, p. 42, as ' una figura in 
Parione d' uno ermafrodito ' in the stone called ' paragone ' 
or ■ touchstone. ' This is also praised by the earlier writers, 
and is seen in the drawing which Michaelis has published. 
Aldovrandi calls it (p. 152) ' uno Hermafrodito di paragone, 
maggiore del naturale ' and notes its provenance. It is the 
' Apollo ' at Naples, No. 6262, and Michaelis gives the material 
as basalt. It is noticed by Winckelmann as an Apollo. 

The della Valle collection was more important than that of 
the Sassi, and was the finest of all those that were being 
formed in the early part of the sixteenth century. There is 


a full notice of it by Michaelis in the Jahrbuch, 1891, p. 218 f., 
who prints the inventory drawn up at the time of the sale of 
the collection in 1584 to Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici, by 

—■ "— --^ 

Fig. 8. — Portion of a Plan of Rome, from Nolli, Nuotjo. Pianta di Roma, 1748. 
607, Palazzo Pamphili Doria. 653, Via di Parione. 

6io, Torre Millina. _ 783, Piazza della Valle. 

615, S. Tommaso in Parione. 794, Palazzo Capranica. 

620, Piazza Pasquino. 795, Teatio della Valle. 

625, Palazzo Massiini. 806, Palazzo Medici, or, Madama. 

80S, S. Luigi del Francesi. 
The dotted portion marks the line of the recent Corso Vittorio Emanuele. 
The site of the Sassi Palace, near S. Tommaso, is marked by a cross. 

whom the antiques were removed to the Villa Medici, whence 
many of them, including most probably the ' Medici Venus,' 
found their way to Florence. 

The della Valle were a family of high importance, counting 


many branches and numerous houses in that part of Rome, 
south-east of the Piazza Navona, where church and piazza 
and palace and theatre still keep alive their name. The most 
important member of the family was Cardinal Andrea della 
Valle, one of Leo X's creations of 1517. Vasari introduced 
him into the fresco in the Palazzo Vecchio at Florence repre- 
senting Leo X with his Cardinals, that is given as a favourable 
specimen of Giorgio's painting on Plate L His is the upper- 
most figure on the extreme right of the picture. Referring to 
this fresco, Vasari describes him in his third ' Ragionamento ' 
[Opere, viii, 158) as ' quel cardinale della Valle, che fece in 
Roma quello antiquario, e che fu il primo che mettessi insieme 
le cose antiche, e le faceva restaurare. ' About the last clause 
a word will be said later on. 

Lanciani (I.e., i, 123) draws attention to the vast estates, 
urban and suburban, possessed by these wealthy proprietors, 
and the opportunities thus afforded of obtaining antique 
treasures for the mere trouble of digging for them. Nobles 
who had official charge of the streets and open places could 
turn the opportunities of their position to account for the same 
purpose, and in the first half of the century lovers of ancient 
art did not buy antiques but simply dug for them. Cardinal 
Aadrea, Lanciani says, ' era appassionato scavatore,' and he 
made excavations in the Thermae of Agrippa near which his 
palace lay, and in the vineyards of the Lateran. Several 
writers of the early part of the century celebrate this collection. 
One (Fichard, in Frankfurtisches Archiv, Frankfurt, 1815, 
III, 68) writes, in 1536, that the Cardinal's house was the real 
treasury of Roman antiquity, and he singles out for notice 
the same porphyry wolf about which Vasari writes, ante, p. 
28. There were so many statues there, he says, that you 
would have thought everything ever found in Rome had been 
brought together to that one place ! The whole collections of 
the family however were divided among three or four palaces, 
but Andrea had the lion's share. He built a new palace for 
his treasures early in the century and displayed the best pieces 
in a court. There were to be seen a Venus, that was probably 
the Medicean, and the Florentine Ganymede, both now in the 
Uffizi, Nos. 548 and 115, and close to these above a window 


the porphyry wolf of which we hear from Vasari. The present 
location of this piece is not known, but Michaelis suggests 
it might be looked for at the Villa Medici or at Florence. 
Vasari also mentions ' two prisoners bound,' also of porphyry, 
as being in the garden of the palace (ante, p. 29). These 
are mentioned in the inventory referred to above (Jahrbuch, 
229) as ' two barbarians, draped, of porphyry, 11 palms high.' 
They were transported from the Villa Medici at Rome to 
Florence in 1790, and are now very familiar to visitors in 
Florence, for they stand just within the Boboli Gardens, one 
on each side of the main walk that leads up towards the Amphi- 
theatre. They are about eight feet high, of porphyry, with 
heads and hands of white marble. Two similar figures are 
to be seen in the Louvre, under the staircase at the top of 
which is the Nike from Samothrace. 

Delia Valle was not content with his fine house and museum, 
but desired another which he began to build about 1520. The 
work was directed by Lorenzo Lotti (Lorenzetto) a pupil and 
assistant of Raphael, and Vasari gives us an account of it 
in his life of the former artist (Opere, iv, 579). In connection 
with this we have from Vasari an interesting notice of the 
beginning of the practice of ' restoring ' antiques, which from 
this period onwards was an established custom. When 
Lorenzetto, he tells us, was building for the Cardinal Andrea 
della Valle the upper garden of his palace, situated where is 
now the Teatro della Valle (see Fig. 8), he arranged niches 
and other places for the Cardinal's antiques. ' These were 
imperfect, some wanting a head and others arms, while others 
again were legless, and all were in some way mutilated. 
Nevertheless the artist managed everything excellently well, 
for he got good sculptors to make again everything that was 
wanting, and this led to other lords doing the same thing, and 
having many antique fragments restored. This was done for 
example by Cardinals Cesis, Ferrara, and Farnese, and in a 
word by all Rome. And in truth these antiques, restored in 
this fashion, have a much more pleasing effect than those 
mutilated torsos, and limbs without a head, and such-like 
fragments.' On the restoration of the Papal antiques see 
Note, postea, p. 116. 




[See § 2, Of Porphyry, ante, p. 32.] 

Ascanio Colonna, who was brother to the famous Vittoria 
Colonna the friend of Michelang-elo, was one of the chief repre- 
sentatives of the imperial interests in Italy, in the stormy 
times of the first half of the sixteenth century. Charles V 
made him in 1520 Grand Constable of Naples. With Pope 
Paul III he had a bitter feud, and the Pope seized on his 
possessions. On the election in 1550 of Julius III, the new 
Pope, in order to please the Emperor, reinstated Ascanio, and 
it was on the occasion of this reconciliation that Colonna 
presented to the Pope the famous basin of porphyry of which 
Vasari writes. The ' vineyard ' for which the Pope destined 
it was connected with the casino and villa outside the Porta 
del Popolo which bear the name of the Pope and where is 
now installed the Villa Papa Giulio Museum. The tazza in 
question is the superb bowl that occupies the centre of 
the Sala Rotonda in the Vatican Museum. It is said to 
have been found temp. Julius II, in the Thermae of Titus 
(Pistolesi, II Vaticano Descritto, v, 206), and after remaining 
for a time at the papal villa it was conveyed by Clement XI 
to the Vatican and placed in the court of the Belvedere, now 
the Cortile Ottagono. Francesco de' Ficorini (Le Vestigia e 
Rarita di Roma, Roma, 1744, bk. 11, ch. 2, p. 15) says that 
in this court was the ' gran conca di porfido, ' and another of 
white oriental granite, both found in the Thermae of Titus. 
When Clement XIV (1769-75) added the octagonal colonnade 
in the interior of the Cortile, the tazza was apparently no 
longer needed there, for soon afterwards Pius VI, who with 
Clement was the creator of the Museo Pio-Clementino, placed 
it in his newly constructed Sala Rotonda, where it remains. 
Pasquale Massi in his Indicazione antiquaria del Ponteficio 
Museo Pio-Clementino, 1792, p. 118, speaks of ' una vastissima 
tazza di porfido di palmi 62 di circonferenza tutta massiccia 
(all of one piece), la quale si trovava gik in Vaticano tras- 
portatavi dalla Villa di Giulio III, fuori di Porta del Popolo, 
ed ora squisitamente risarcita. ' This restoration was completed 


in 1792 and was no doubt carried out by the same artists 
whom Pius VI employed for the repair of the porphyry 
sarcophagi noticed ante, p. 27. In this way the work, which 
Vasari says in the text had to be left unfinished, was finally 
accomplished. Cancellieri {Lettera . . . intorno la maravi- 
gliosa Tazza di Porfido, etc., Roma, 1822) makes the surprising 
statement that at one time the tazza had been mended with 
pieces of white granite ! 

The tazza is the largest existing piece of the kind and 
measures 14 ft. in diameter. It is shallow and has in the 
interior the usual projecting central boss. Independently of 
this boss the tazza has only one arris, or in Vasari 's words 

Fig. 9. — Sketch of shape of the large porphyry Tazza in the Sala Rotojada 
of the Vatican. ^-^ 

' canto vivo, ' at A in the rough sketch. Fig. 9. A smaller 
but more artistically wrought porphyry tazza, beautifully 
restored, and measuring 8 ft. 6 in. in diameter, is in the Pitti 
at Florence close to the entrance to the passage to the Uffizi. 
It was a gift from Clement VII to the Medici, and was brought 
from Rome (Villa Medici) to Florence in 1790, where it was 
repaired in the Tuscan manufactory of mosaics (Zobi, Notizie 
Storiche suir Origine e Progressi del Lavori di Commesso 
in Pietre Dure, Firenze, 1853, p. 118). Both these pieces are 
superb works, and display the magnificent qualities of the red 
Egyptian porphyry to full advantage. 

The original purpose of these great basins is not very clear. 
The ' conche ' mentioned in the footnote to p. 27, ante, though 
now used as sarcophagi, were certainly in their origin 
baths, but the shallow tazza would be unsuitable for such a 
purpose, and moreover the central ornament would have almost 


precluded such a use. There seems no sign of a central 
opening through which a water pipe could have been intro- 
duced, so that the tazza might serve as the basin of a fountain. 
Perhaps their employment was simply ornamental. 


[See § 2, 0/ Porphyry, ante, p. 29.] 

Vasari does not give a biography of this artist among his 
Lives, though he more than once refers to him in connection 
with other sculptors. There is on the other hand a notice of 
him and of other artists of his family in Baldinucci's Notisie 
de' Professori del Disegno, published 1681-1728. Baldinucci 
knew personally the son of Francesco, but was so poorly 
informed about Francesco's early life that he makes two 
persons of him and describes his early career as if it were that 
of another Francesco del Tadda. (It is true that there was 
an earlier Francesco Ferrucci but he was not called ' del Tadda ' 
and he died before 1500). The commentators on Vasari 
previous to the Milanesi edition seem to have been misled by 
Baldinucci, but in this edition the mistake is corrected, and 
a genealogical tree of the whole Ferrucci family is given in 
voL IV, p. 487. 

Francesco derived his name ' del Tadda ' from ' his grand- 
father Taddeo Ferrucci, who belonged to a family of sculptors 
in Fiesole. In early life he worked with other sculptors under 
the orders of Clement VII at the completion of the chapel of 
Our Lady of Loretto, and afterwards assisted Michelangelo 
in his work in the Sacristy of S. Lorenzo at Florence. In 
the Life of Giovanni Agnolo Montorsoli Vasari praises him 
as ' intagliatore excellente ' (Opere, vi, 638). The works in 
porphyry mentioned in Vasari 's text, ante, p. 32 f., will be 
noticed presently, but it may be noted here that del Tadda's 
chief work in this material, executed after Vasari published 
his Lives, was the figure of ' Justice ' which stands on the 
granite column in the Piazza di S. Trinitk at Florence. The 
column, which is 36 ft. high, came from the Baths of Caracalla 
at Rome and was presented by Pius IV to Duke Cosimo I. 


Among the letters of Vasari published in the eighth volume 
of the Milanesi edition is one dated December i8, 1561, to 
Duke Cosimo, giving the measurements of this column which 
was then lying at Rome awaiting its transport to Florence. 
The system of measurement is instructive and has been referred 
to ante, p. 66 (see Opere, viii, 352). The column was taken 
to Florence, occupying a year on its journey, and was erected 
in 1565 on the Piazza S. Triniti where it now stands. Cellini 
(Scultura, ch. 6) says that it is of Elban granite, but it is more 
likely to be from Egypt. 

Francesco del Tadda received the commission for a porphyry 
figure to surmount it, and the work is said to have taken him 
and his son eleven years ; it is in five or six pieces and about 
II ft. 6 in. high. The statue was placed in position on June 
9, 1581, and the drapery of bronze was adjusted to it on 
July 21 (Francesco Settimanni quoted by Zobi, page 105). 
The figure has been adversely criticized but is a fairly successful 
piece of work, considering the difficulties of its execution. 
Francesco del Tadda died in 1585 and was buried in the church 
of S. Girolamo at Fiesole, where his epitaph signalizes his 
unique position as a worker in porphyry ' cum statuariam in 
Porphyretico lapide mult. ann. unicus exerceret,' and bears 
his portrait by his own hand in relief in porphyry on a field 
of green Prat'o serpentine. 

On the whole subject of work in porphyry, after the early 
Byzantine period when the late Roman imperial tradition was 
still in force, the following may be noted. 

Vasari does not say that the art of working the stone was 
ever wholly lost, and mentions, ante, p. 29, the cutting of 
the stone for use in inlaid pavements, Cosmati-work, and the 
like, as may be seen in St Mark's, Venice ; at Ravello, and 
in numberless Roman churches. He also describes the 
' scabbling ' of the stone by heavy hammers with steel points 
to reduce it to even surfaces both rounded and flat (ante, 
p. 31). Fine examples of the use of the material in mediaeval 
days, for purposes other than statuesque, can be seen in the 
Cathedral of Palermo. There are there four noble sarcophagi, 
with canopies supported by monolithic shafts all in the same 
stone, dating from the thirteenth century. They contain the 


bodies of the Emperor Frederick II, who died in 1250, and of 
earlier members of his house, and show that at that time the 
artificers of southern Italy and Sicily could deal successfully on 
a large scale with this intractable material. Anton Springer, 
die Mittelalterliche Kunst in Palermo, Bonn, 1869, remarks in 
this connection, p. 29, that the Sicilians are to this day specially 
expert in the working of hard stones. Porphyry was also 
used on the original fa9ade of S. Maria del Fiore at Florence 
that was demolished in 1588. Vasari might too have mentioned 
the porphyry sarcophagus completed in 1472 by Andrea del 
Verrocchio for the monument of Piero and Giovanni de' 
Medici in S. Lorenzo at Florence. The Verrocchio sarco- 
phagus is however composed only of flat slabs of porphyry, 
like those round the pulpit in St. Mark's, Venice, whereas 
Vasari is drawing a distinction between this architectural use 
of the stone and its employment in figure sculpture, of which 
he makes Francesco del Tadda the first restorer. 

In regard to this use of porphyry it must not be forgotten 
that in the Cabinet of Gems in the Uffizi there is a beautifully 
executed porphyry statuette, or rather group, of Venus with 
Cupid, about ten inches high, signed in Greek characters with 
the name of ' Pietro Maria. ' This was Pier Maria da Pescia, 
noticed by Vasari in his life of Valerio Vicentino and others, 
as a famous worker in hard stones of the days of Leo X 
(Opere, v, 370). This however was executed, so Zobi says 
(P- 97)) with the wheel after the manner of gem engraving, 
whereas the works of Ferrucci, of later date, were on the scale 
of statuary proper. 

In connection with the latter we have Vasari's story of the 
invention of Duke Cosimo. This is explained by Galluzzi, 
(Istoria del Granducato di Toscana, Firenze, 1781, i, 157 f.) 
who says that Cosimo's efforts to exploit the mineral wealth 
of Tuscany (see postea, p. 120 f.) gave him an interest in metals, 
and that he set up a laboratory in his palace, where he carried 
on experiments in chemistry and physics. Hence the discovery 
of which Vasari writes. Cosimo certainly in his own time 
had some personal association with this cutting of porphyry, 
for Galluzzi says he used to make presents to his friends of 
porphyry reliefs executed with tools tempered by the new 


process, and quotes (11, 229) a letter of thanks from a Cardinal 
to whom a gift of the kind had been forwarded. On the 
other hand Cellini, (Scultura ch. 6) makes Tadda the inventor 
and ignores Cosimo altogether, while Baldinucci, though, like 
Vasari, he was devoted to the Medici, scouts the idea of 
Cosimo having had any personal share in the invention of the 
new tempering bath, which he ascribes to Tadda alone, and 
he adduces in support of this Tadda 's own testament, in which 
are the words Franciscus de Fesulis sculptor porfidi, et ipse 
inventor, seu renovator talis sculpturae, et artis porfidorum 
incidendi. Cosimo's participation in the discovery, whatever 
it was, can hardly have been ascribed to him without some 
small foundation in fact, and Aurelio Gotti, Le Gallerie e I 
Musei di Firenze, 2nd Ed., Firenze, 1875, p. 45, gives credit 
for it to the Duke. 

However this may be, Tadda appears to have used the new 
process for the first time in ^he production of the tazza for 
the fountain in the cortile of the Palazzo Vecchio, and to 
have advanced from this to the more artistic work Vasari 
goes on to describe. Endeavours to discover the present 
habitat of the oval portraits of the Medici and the Head of 
Christ, referred to by Vasari, ante, p. 33, have led to the 
following result. Signor Supino, the Director of the National 
Museum at Florence, courteously informed us that the portraits 
of Cosimo Pater Patriae, of Leo X, and of Clement VH, with 
one of Giovanni de' Bicci, were preserved in the magazines of 
the Bargello, where he has kindly allowed one of us to photo- 
graph them. The head of Cosimo has on the chamfer of the 
bust the inscription opa di franc" da fiesole, which identifies 
it with certainty as the work of Tadda of which Vasari writes. 
The others are treated in the same fashion, and all are mounted 
on flat oval slabs of green serpentine of Prato. They are no 
doubt all by the same hand. They were formerly in the Uffizi 
but have been for many years in the Bargello, and their 
historical and artistic interest would certainly vindicate for 
them more honourable treatment than at present is their lot. 
Plates III and V give the Cosimo Pater Patriae portrait and 
that of Leo X. They measure about 19 in. by 14 in. 

With regard to the other examples noticed by Vasari, Zobi, 



I.C., p. io8, informed his readers that the two ovals of Duke 
Cosimo I and his wife the Duchess Leonora were at that time 
(about 1850) in the Pitti ' on the wall of the vestibule in the 
part called Meridiana,' but he complicates matters by announc- 
ing the same about the head of the older Cosimo, which we 
have just found at the Barg-ello, and which Gotti says, I.e., 
p. 46, was originally in the Villa of Poggio Imperiale whence 
it was conveyed in 1862 to the Uffizi. Zobi's words are sub- 
joined in the original. ' Ed i ritratti in profilo del duca 
Cosimo I, d' Eleonora di Toledo sua moglie, e di Cosimo 
appellato il padre delta patria, scolpiti a mezzo rilievo e 
rapportati sul fondo di serpentine, si trovano oggidi situati 
insieme con altri ritratti parimente porfiretici, sulle pareti del 
vestibolo al quartiere detto della Meridiana nel palazzo regale.' 
The part of the Pitti referred to is on the second floor of 
the palace and receives its name from a meridian line in brass 
marked on the floor on which, at the psychological moment, 
the sun shines through a hole in the roof. Here, through the 
courtesy of Signor Cornish the Conservator of the Royal 
Palace, we have seen no fewer than seven oval portraits in 
porphyry mounted on serpentine that are built into the wall 
in situations which make their study rather difficult. Among 
them the marked features of Duke Cosimo are not apparent, 
but on one of them is the inscription, ' Ferdinandus Magnus 
Dux Etr. 1609,' and on another the name and date -of Christina, 
Duchess of Tuscany, 1669. This all bears out what Baldinucci 
tells us, that the Ferrucci family in general put their hands 
to this particular class of work, which' was their speciality, 
just as the glazed terra-cottas were specialities of the della 
Robbia, while they also adopted into the circle pupils from 
outside. Zobi, p. 109, quotes an old inventory of 1574, the 
date of the death of Duke Cosimo I, which mentions ten such 
portraits of members of the family as at that time existing, 
all mounted on serpentine. Later on, Baldinucci mentions 
three sons of Francesco, to one of whom, Romolo, he is sup- 
posed to have left his ' secret. ' There was however also an 
Andrea Ferrucci, and a Mattias Ferrucci, who if they lacked 
the pretended ' secret ' at any rate did the same work, and 
finally one Raflfaello Curradi, a pupil of Andrea, who in 1636 



abandoned sculpture and took the Franciscan habit. Accord- 
ing to Zobi, p. 116, he was the last of the porphyry sculptors, 
and ' dopo quest ' epoca affatto s' ignora se furono prodotte 
altre opere porfiree. ' In view of the date 1669 on one of the 
ovals in the Pitti, this should not perhaps be taken too 
absolutely. That porphyry has been worked successfully at 
Florence at later dates, the admirable restoration of the 
porphyry tazza in the Pitti, mentioned ante, p. 109, and other 
more recent productions noted by Zobi, sufficiently show. 

If we add to the series of ovals the various porphyry busts 
of members of the Medici house, exhibited in the outer vestibule 
of the Uffizi and other places, there would be enough porphyry 
versions of the Medici to furnish material for a monograph. 

With regard finally to the ' Head of Christ ' which Vasari 
says was taken to Rome and much admired by Michelangelo, 
the original seems to be lost, but Zobi states, p. 95, that in 
his time a scion of the Ferrucci family, living at Lugo in the 
Province of Ravenna, possessed a head of Christ in porphyry 
signed Mathias Ferrucceus Civis Florentinus Fecit, and 
he thinks this may have been copied from the original by 
Francesco del Tadda, of which there is question in Vasari 's 


[See § 4, Of Cipollaccio, ante, p. 36.] 

The history of this famous Cortile forms the subject of an 
elaborate paper by Professor AjoITMichaelis in the Jahrbuch 
of the German Archaeological Institute for 1890. It has been 
described as ' the most noteworthy place of art in all Italy 
or rather in the world,' as it was the first home of the nascent 
collection of antique statues formed by successive Popes from 
the beginning of the sixteenth century, that has grown into 
the Vatican museum of sculpture. It must be remembered 
that the octagonal portico which now surrounds the Cortile 
is a later addition of the last part of the eighteenth century, 
and when Vasari knew it, about 1530, in the pontificate of 
Clement VII, it was laid out as a garden of orange trees, with 


niches by Bramante in the four corners and in the middle 
of the sides. In these niches and on pedestals in the court 
were displayed notable antiques, such as the ' Laocoon,' the 
' Nile ' now in the Braccio Nuovo, the ' Tiber ' now in the 
Louvre, the ' Torso,' the ' Cleopatra,' two Venuses, the ' Apollo 
Belvedere,' and others. This was a favourite resort of Clement, 
who used to walk here in the mornings reading his breviary, 
and listened in the evenings to music made for him by 
Benvenuto Cellini and others (Cellini, Autobiography, transl., 
Lond., 1878, p. 42). Here too he consulted with Michelangelo 
in 1532 on the question of the restoration of the antiques, and 
Michelangelo recommended to him for the purpose the youthful 
sculptor Fra Giovann' Agnolo Montorsoli, whom the Pope in- 
stalled in the Belvedere to carry out the work (see antp, p. 107). 
Among the features of the court were fountains in some of the 
niches, on which were statues. The ' Cleopatra ' of the Vatican 
was one of these, and Clement seems to have desired to make 
a second fountain corresponding to that of the Cleopatra, to 
be adorned by the river god Tigris. The 'Tigris,' which is 
now in the Sala a Croce Greca, is said to have been restored 
by the august hands of Michelangelo himself, and it was for 
the installation of the ' Tigris ' that Buonarotti designed the 
fountain of which Vasari writes. Vasari's account, which had 
escaped the notice of Michaelis, is our only authority for this 
work by Michelangelo, which is not, so far as the present 
writers can discover, mentioned in any of the numerous ' Lives ' 
of the artist. There is a drawing of the fountain by Heems- 
kerck, reproduced by Michaelis, but this only gives the figure, 
and not the decorative treatment of the niche, which is the 
point of interest as a parergon by Michelangelo. The 
situation of the ' Tigris ' fountain was in the corner where 
is now the Cabinet of the Laocoon. (Michaelis I.e., and Plans 
and Drawings of the Vatican in the King's Library at Blooms- 
bury. Of older writers Bonanni, Numismata Summorum 
Pontificum Templi Vaticani Fabricam Indicantia, Roma, 1696, 
is praised by Lanciani as the most useful and trustworthy). 



[See § 7, Of Paragon, ante, p. 42.] 

There are at least six different kinds of stone referred to 
in this section, and for convenience they are lettered in the 
text (a) (b) etc. 

(a) There is a stone specially suited for the process of 
testing the precious metals in the way Vasari describes. It 
is called in various tongues ' touchstone,' ' pierre de touche,' 
' Probirstein,' ' pietra di paragone,' ' basanite ' from Greek 
jSao-ovos, a test, and in Latin 'Lapis Lydius' from the reason 
that it was found in Lydia. According to Theophrastus, 
Ilejoi Aidtav, § 35, and Pliny, Hist. Nat., xxxiii, 8, it 
was only found in small nodules, and this agrees with the 
character of the stone. It is described by Professor Bonney 
as a ■ silicified argillite, ' that is to say a clayey sedimentary 
stone largely impregnated with silica, and, as used by the 
modern jeweller and goldsmith, it is in appearance and texture 
an extremely hard stone of very fine grain and of a velvet 
blackness, the colour being due to the presence of carbonaceous 
elements. Small lumps of fine texture are found embedded in 
a coarser matrix. It has no mystic power of testing metals. 
The piece of metal to be essayed is simply rubbed on the 
stone and the mark scrutinized, or compared as regards colour 
with marks from similar rubbings of metal pins of known com- 
position. A piece of the stone, showing some marks of the 
kind, is given as I on the Frontispiece. For the above purpose 
any hard, fine-grained, compact stone of a dark colour will 
serve, and black jasper Wedgewood-ware answers the demand 
as well as a natural stone. The small portion of the metal 
rubbed off as above may however be tested more searchingly by 
the application of acid, and for this to be practicable the stone 
must not be a limestone, which would be at once attacked 
by the acid and confuse the test. 

(b) The ' other variety with a different grain and colour, ' 
of which Egyptian sphinxes were made, must be basalt (or 
diorite) in which material the statue which Vasari calls the 
' hermaphrodite in Parione ' is actually cut. A fine-grained 


basalt would serve well enough as a touchstone, though it is 
not the true material. 

(c) There appears to be a kind of granitic stone, which Mr 
Brindley calls ' an augite variety of green granite found along- 
side the Prato serpentine ' (for which see below) found near 
Prato (Repetti, art. 'Monte Ferrato,' writes of a ' granito 
di Prato ' or ' granitone di Fighne '), but the stone that Vasari 
goes on to describe (d) as used for sarcophagi, is of another 
composition altogether. This is a black or grey limestone that 
used to be abundantly employed as the setting for Florentine 
mosaics, and is still used for such purposes as inlaid letters, 
etc., in white marble. P, as above, shows a piece cut for such 
use. It is however liable to white or hght-grey veins, and 
is now supplanted at the Florentine mosaic manufactory by 
a black marble or limestone imported from Belgium. The 
sarcophagus of Piero Soderini, behind the high altar in the 
church of the Carmine at Florence is in a grey limestone much 
traversed by lighter veins. Such a stone could not be suitably 
used as a touchstone, as in the first place it is not hard enough, 
and, in the second, would not admit of the use of the acid test. 
The name ' paragone ' is however very commonly applied to 
it. The ' canopy of Prato touchstone ' is mentioned by other 
writers beside Vasari, but is no more to be seen and may have 
perished in the Carmine fire. 

(e) Here again we have a quite different stone, though one 
very well known and in common use. The dark stone which 
occurs in bands on Tuscan buildings in Florence and elsewhere 
is known as ' Verde di Prato ' and is a species of (true) 
serpentine, very dark in hue and often seeming purplish or 
puce-coloured rather than green. It would be too soft to 
make a good touchstone, and is disposed to disintegrate when 
exposed to severe climatic conditions. Thus on the fa9ade 
of S. Miniato a Monte on the hill facing the north it is far 
more weathered than on the Duomo or Campanile below. For 
the quarries of it and its use see the Note, postea, p. 127. 
E, as above, shows a characteristic piece kindly lent from 
his collection by Professor Bonney. 

(f) Lastly there is the red marble used in bands on the 
Campanile and Duomo. For this also see the Note p. 128. 


[See §§ 5, 9, 97. 99, etc.] 

The best work on the subject of Italian stones is that by 
Jervis, / Tesori Sotterranei dell' Italia, Torino, 1889, and 
a considerable amount of information is contained in the local 
articles in E. Repetti's Disionario geographico, etc., della 
Toscana, Firenze^ 1839, and also in the Official Catalogue of 
the Italian section in the London International Exhibition of 
1862. In connection with investigations which we have had 
to make on all this subject of the stones, we have to acknow- 
ledge with all gratitude the expert aid kindly afforded by 
Professors Bonney of Cambridge and Geikie of Edinburgh, as 
well as the valuable local assistance and information kindly 
given to us by Professor Enrico Bonanni of Carrara and the 
representatives of the firm Henraux et Cie of Seravezza, the 
owners of the Monte Altissimo quarries presently to be 
mentioned. From both these sources we have obtained 
knowledge which we could not otherwise have compassed, and 
we desire again to express our obligations to Mr W. Brindley, 
who is as well known in the Carrara district as in London, and 
who gave us these introductions as well as much technical 

The quarries mentioned by Vasari are named in the 
accompanying table, where there are also indications of the 
kinds of stone he signalizes as their products. It must of 
course be understood that extensive quarries generally produce 
more than one kind of stone, as Vasari notes in the case of 
the Carrara quarries in § 9, and again in ' Painting ' § 97, 
where he speaks of variegated marbles alternating with the 

The principal deposits of marble are those in the Carrara 
district, in the mountains called the Apuan Alps near the sea 
coast between Pisa and Spezia. The marbles of the district 
have been exploited since the time of the Romans, under the 
name of marbles of Luna or Luni. The site of the Etrusco- 
Roman town of Luni is a little south of the railway line, 
about half way between Avenza-Carrara and Sarzana, and 
traces of the Roman workings are observable in many of the 


present quarries. The industry received a notable impulse at 
the great artistic epoch of the Renaissance. Duke Cosimo 
de' Medici gave considerable attention to the exploitation of 
this form of mineral wealth, as was also the case with the 
metal-producing mines (ante, p. 112). He opened new quarries 
in the Pietrasanta district of the Apuan Alps, and also gave 
special attention to the quarries in the Pisan Mountains, 
between Pisa and Lucca, and to facilitating the transport of 
the material from the hills to the former town. 

The special quarries of which the town of Carrara is the 
centre and d^p6t are the oldest and the most prolific, and a 
useful local guide to Carrara gives a long list of the effective 
ones in their different groups, with their respective products. 
Of these, that which has furnished the finest statuary marble 
in the largest blocks is the quarry of Polvaccio, in the Ravac- 
cione valley under Monte Sagro, one of the culminating points 
of the ridge of the Apuan Alps. See the sketch map, Fig. 
10. Vasari (ante, p. 46) specially praises the Polvaccio 
marbles, as being free from the veins and flaws so tiresome 
to the sculptor. There are now other localities in the district 
that furnish as good pieces as Polvaccio. 

There is another important centre a little to the south-east, 
that is of more interest in the present connection. This is 
Pietrasanta, which is the emporium for the quarries of 
Seravezza several times mentioned by Vasari, and those of 
Stazzema, a little further up among the hills. 

The Seravezza district is quite apart from that of Carrara, 
and the little town in question nestles in the folds of the ridges 
that descend from Monte Altissimo, the culminating point next 
to the south from Monte Sagro, both peaks being between 
5 and 6,000 feet high. Both districts are rich in memories 
of Michelangelo. About his work at Carrara there is more 
than one published treatise, as for example Carlo Frediani's 
Ragionamento Storico, 2nd Ed., Siena, 1875, while in con- 
nection with his proceedings at Seravezza, and especially the 
identification of localities mentioned in his correspondence and 
memoranda, MM. Henraux have furnished us with some 
first-hand information. Both at Carrara and at Pietrasanta 
inscriptions indicate houses where he lodged on. his visits to 


the localities. Carrara was his first love, and when charged 
by Leo X in 1516 with the work at S. Lorenzo at Florence 
he betook himself thither for marbles. Vasari, in his Life 
of Michelangelo, Ofere, ed Milanesi, vii, 189, tells us how 
while he was there he received a letter from the Pope bidding 
him turn his attention rather to the Seravezza district, which 
was actually in Tuscan territory, whereas Carrara was in the 
principality of Massa-Carrara, and at the time under the rule 
of the Marchese Alberigo, who was Michelangelo's friend. 

Repetti has published documents of the year 1515, which 
show that at that date the Commune of Seravezza resolved 
to make a donation to the Florentine people of the right to 
quarry in the cliffs of Monte Altissimo, in which it is said, 
' there are supposed to be mines and quarries of marble ' (in 
quibus dicitur esse cava et mineria pro marmoribus cavendis), 
and also of the ground necessary for making a road for trans- 
port. This was the cause of the Pope's orders to Michelangelo, 
which Vasari says he obeyed with great reluctance. In the 
invaluable ' Contratti ' and ' Ricordi,' which G. Milanesi has 
printed in his volume of Michelangelo's Lettere (Firenze, 1875), 
we find Buonarroti in 1516-7 at Carrara, getting material from 
the Polvaccio quarry, but at the beginning of 15 18 he notes 
(Lettere, p. 566) ' Andai a cavare a Pietra Santa e fecivi 
I'avviamento (the start) che oggi si vede fatto,' and from this 
time his chief work was beneath the wild cliffs of Monte 
Altissimo (ibid., p. 573 f.). A memorandum of a later date 
(Lettere, p. 580) thus worded, ' a di circa venticinque di febraio 
nel mille cinquecento diciassette (our 15 18) . . . non mi pos- 
sendo servire a Carrara di detti marmi, mi missi a fare cavare 
nelle montagnie di Seraveza, villa di Pietra Santa, dove 
inanzi non era mai piu state cavato,' shows that this was 
pioneer work. The contract made at Pietrasanta on March 15, 
1518, for the work of quarrying (Lettere, p. 673) indicates 
that the locality was the gorge of the Serra, which runs up 
northward from Seravezza to the heart of the mountains. 
Two localities are mentioned, one, ' Finochiaia sive Trans- 
vaserra,' and another opposite to this, ' dirimpetto et riscontro,' 
called • alia Cappella. ' The first place is now called ' Trambi- 
serra,' and will be seen on the sketch map on the west of the 


gorge with ' la Cappella ' over against it on the east. Another 
contract of April 14 in the same year mentions quarrying 
projected ' a 1' Altissimo ' in a locality called ' a la Piastra 
di verso Strettoia sive Antognia.' There is a Strettoia on 
the lower hills west of Seravezza, but that the operations in 
question were really higher up the gorge among the very 
cliffs of Monte Altissimo is proved by a letter of later date 
from Vincenzio Danti to Duke Francesco de' Medici (July 2, 
1568; Gaye, Carteggio, in, 254), who reports that he examined 
the old workings and road of Michelangelo ' al Altissimo, ' 
and mentions various localities, 'la Polla,' 'Costa dei Cani,' 
etc., the sites of which are at the head of the valley as shown 
on the map. ' La Polla ' means the water-head. Moreover, 
in a letter from Seravezza dated August, 1518, Lettere, p. 394, 
Michelangelo speaks of the road for the transport of the 
marbles as being nearly finished, though in three places rocks 
had still to be cut away. The places are ' a Rimagno,' ' poco 
passato Rimagno per andare a Seraveza,' and ' a 1' ultime 
case di Seravezza, andando verso la Corvara. ' The places 
are marked on the sketch map. Marbles from any part of 
the upper gorge of the Serra would have to be brought past 
Rimagno on their way down, and we therefore see that Michel- 
angelo exploited to some extent the actual marbles of the 
Altissimo, which for the last half century have furnished the 
very finest and most costly statuary marble of the whole Apuan 
Alps, Mr Brindley says, of the whole world. The existing 
quarries are under the serrated peaks of Monte Altissimo, at 
an elevation of some 3 to 4,000 feet, and the marbles are now 
brought down in trolleys sliding along a rope stretched across 
the valley and mounting to the highest levels. It is believed 
locally that the workings called ' Vincarella ' are some of the 
first opened by Michelangelo, and from somewhere at any 
rate among these cliffs, in the latter part of 15 18, by the 
agency of some skilled workmen who had been sent from 
Settignano as well as local hands, and by means of ropes and 
windlasses and sledges, Michelangelo was letting down a 
column, which however fell and was broken. 

A letter from Seravezza of April 20, 1519, Lettere, p. 403, 
gives details of the accident, which was due to the fracture 


of a defective ring of iron, and he says, ' Siano stati a un 
grandissimo pericolo della vita tutti che eravamo attorno : 
e issi guasto una mirabil pietra.' No wonder he records in 
a memorandum that he subsequently left Pietrasanta ill, and 
that he exclaims in a postscript to a letter of April 1518, 
Lettere, p. 138, ' Oh, cursed a thousand times be the day and 
the hour when I quitted Carrara ! ' 

The Monte Altissimo quarries are situated in a scene that 
to us to-day is sufficiently wild, though the modern lover of 
the mountains finds it full of an austere beauty. To Michel- 
angelo, who was fretting at his enforced loss of ti'me and 
in no mood to surrender himself to the influences of nature, 
it was a savage and inhospitable country. He writes from 
Seravezza to P'lorence in August 1518, (Lettere, p. 394), ' The 
place where we have to quarry here is very rugged (molto 
aspro), and the men are very unskilled in such work : never- 
theless we must have much patience for several months till 
the mountains are tamed and the men are instructed. After- 
wards we shall go on more quickly : it is enough that what 
I have promised, that will I at all costs perform, and I will 
do the finest work that has ever yet been accomplished in 
Italy, if God be my aid! ' As a fact it was 1521 before the 
first column for the fafade of S. Lorenzo arrived in Florence, 
the rest, as Vasari says, (ante, p. 47 and Opere, vii, p. 190) 
remained in the quarries or by the sea-shore, and the ' finest 
work ' was never even begun. MM. Henraux state that 
they know of no traces of the columns said to have been left 
thus ' on the sea shore ' (by Forte dei Marmi) but they possess 
a piece of a fractured column found near the site of Michel- 
angelo's supposed workings at ' la Polla. ' 

At the death of Pope Leo nothing had been accomplished 
but the foundations of the facade, and the transport of a great 
column from Seravezza to the Piazza di S. Lorenzo ! For 
nearly thirty years after this time the quarries of this district 
were almost deserted, and the roads which Michelangelo had 
begun were not completed. 

At a later period however Duke Cosimo I paid special 
attention to the quarries of the Seravezza region, and had 
a casino or summer residence built here for himself by 


Ammanati, now termed ' II Palazzo,' and the residence of 
the Mayor. A commissioner was established at Pietrasanta 
as the metropolis of the district, to supervise the workings. 
In the ' Introduction ' to Painting at Chapter xvi, § 99, postea, 
p. 261, Vasari gives us an interesting notice of the opening 
of some new quarries in 1563 near the village of Stazzema, 
which lies behind the mountains which overhang Pietrasanta, 
and is approached from Seravezza up the Versiglia, or the 
gorge of the river Vezza. The road, of which he speaks in 
this place (p. 261) as in course of making, he mentions in 
some of his letters of 1564, and also in the Life of Michel- 
angelo, but he gives no indication of its course. It was 
probably the road from Seravezza across the marsh-land to 
the sea, a more troublesome affair than roads along mountain 

As regards the products of all these quarries of the Apuan 
Alps, statuary marble occurs as we have seen in many places, 
and it is found, where it occurs, in 'compact masses or nodules 
embedded in and flanked by marbles impure in colour and 
streaked and variegated in divers fashions. A vast amount 
of the marble quarried in the hills is what the quarrymen call 
' Ordinario,' and is of a grey hue and often streaked with 
veins, which when well marked give it a new value as ' fiorito, ' 
or ' flowered. ' Of a more decided grey is the prized marble 
called ' Bardiglio,' which is the kind furnished by the 'alia 
Cappella ' quarries. Bardiglio again may be ' fiorito. ' These 
correspond to the ' three sorts of marble that come from the 
mountains of Carrara ' of which Vasari writes in § 97, postea, 
P- 259, ' one of which is of a pure and dazzling white, the 
other not white but of a livid hue, while the third is a grey 
marble (marmo bigio) of a silvery tint.' The white and the 
grey are shown in the coloured drawing at J and K. 

More decidedly variegated are the marbles known as 
' Mischi ' or ' Breccias, ' and of these the Stazzema quarries 
yield the chief supply. The ' Mischio di Seravezza ' of which 
Vasari writes in a letter, Gaye, in, 164, was from this locality, 
and so too the ' Mischi ' mentioned in § § 5, 9, ante, pp. 37, 
45, of which some are ' Mischiati di rosso. ' C and D as 
above show characteristic specimens of Breccias of Stazzema. 


Repetti, art. ' Stazzema,' says that the ' Bardigli fioriti ' and 
Breccias of Stazzema are generally known as ' Mischi da 
Seravezza. ' 

It should be mentioned that Massa, between Carrara and 
Pietrasanta, is also a quarry centre of importance. 

Leaving the Apuan Alps, the next marble-producing locality 
we come to on descending the coast is that of the Monti Pisani, 
the range of hills separating the territories of Pisa and Lucca. 
Monte S. Giuliano is on the road between the two cities, and 
there are quarries near Bagni S. Giuliano about six kilometres 
from Pisa. It will be seen that Vasari (ante, p. 50) speaks 
favourably of this marble, and Mr W. Brindley thinks this 
notice in Vasari is of special interest, as he reports of this 
marble that ' for durability and delicate honey-tint it is superior 
to Carrara. ' The local term ' ceroide ' ' wax-like ' used for 
this stone conveys the same idea. It was used at Lucca as 
well as on Pisan buildings. From the same quarries come 
red and veined marbles and Breccias and ' Mischi ' (Torelli, 
Statistica della Provincia di Pisa, Pisa, 1863). 

The exploitation of these marbles was rendered difficult at 
Pisa by the marshy nature of the ground at the foot of the 
hills which impeded transport, and Duke Cosimo set himself 
to find a remedy. He took up the question of drainage and 
regulation of watercourses in what is called the ' pianura di 
Pisa,' and among the forty medals struck to celebrate his 
various achievements were some for ' Clima Pisano Risanato. ' 
In 1545 an ' Uffizio dei fossi ' was constituted, and the modern 
hydraulic system which has done so much to benefit this region, 
dates from these measures of Cosimo. Vasari, § 11, ante, 
p. 50, speaks of a river ' Osoli ' the course of which was 
straightened and confined. This is probably a mistake for 
' Oseri ' or ' Osari,' names applying to one of the small streams 
close to Pisa in the direction of the quarries. Targioni Tozzetti 
in his Viaggi in Toscana has a long discussion on this river, 
the Auser of the ancients, for which he gives the modern 
equivalents ' Oseri, ' or ' Osoli ' (the latter probably derived 
from this passage in Vasari). There is a ' Fossa dell' 
Oseretto ' to the west of the city. These straightened water- 
courses facilitated the transport of the stone in barges. 


Continuing southwards along the coast we come to some 
marble quarries mentioned by Vasari on the promontory of 
Piombino, opposite the island of Elba. The locality Vasari 
names is Campiglia (§ 10, ante, p. 50) but the whole of 
Monte Calvi above that town is marble-bearing, and the pro- 
ducts were said to be as good in quality as those of the Carrara 
district (Torelh, I.e., p. xc). Vasari says that the Campiglia 
marbles are excellent for building purposes, and Repetti asserts 
that in the fifteenth century, for the cupola of S. Maria del 
Fiore, more marble was used from this region than from 
Carrara itself. The ancient reputation of the district is not 
however now maintained. 

Hitherto all the marbles used for building purposes that 
Vasari has mentioned have been white or variegated, but 
everyone who has visited the Tuscan cities knows that the 
decorative effect of the buildings depends on the juxtaposition 
of bands of white and of black, or at any rate, dark marble, 
with occasional bands of red. The dark marbles come chiefly 
from the neighbourhood of Prato, and this introduces us to a 
group of inland quarries within a few miles of Florence to 
the north and also to the south and east. Vasari does not 
say much about this dark stone, which was however of the 
utmost importance in Tuscan architecture. It is commonly 
called Prato Serpentine, or ' Verde di Prato,' and the quarries 
at Monte Ferrato, by Figline, three miles north of Prato, 
produce it of the finest quality. The Figline quarries are 
reported on by Professor Bonney in a paper on ' Ligurian 
and Tuscan Serpentines ' in the Geological Magazine for 
1879. He has kindly lent us the specimen from the quarry 
figured as E on the Frontispiece. This stone is of a deep 
green colour, tending sometimes towards a purple or puce 
tint. Stone of much the same character is found, as Vasari 
states, near the Impruneta, six or seven miles east of 
Florence. It is this Prato Serpentine that has been so largely 
used from the twelfth century to the fifteenth in Tuscany for 
alternating with the white marbles in the incrustation of 
fa9ades. There are deposits of the same stone in the Pisan 
mountains. The same stone was sometimes used for decorative 
stone work in connection with sepulchral monuments. Accord- 


ing to Vasari however, ante, p. 42 f . , it was the ' paragone ' or 
dark limestone of Prato that was chiefly employed for this 

If Vasari 's information about this important stone, and his 
interest in it, seem scanty, it must be borne in mind that it 
was a mediaeval material rather than a Renaissance one. We 
find it on the churches and bell towers and baptistries of the 
twelfth and following centuries, but not on the palaces of the 
fifteenth and sixteenth. Hence the stone was not so interesting 
in Vasari 's eyes as it is in ours. 

Finally, the red stone seen in bands on the Duomo and the 
Campanile at Florence, that Vasari calls ' marmo rosso ' (ante, 
p. 43), is not fully crystalline and is rather a limestone than 
a marble. It is deep red when quarried, but on the buildings 
has bleached to a pinky hue from exposure to the air. It is 
apt to scale, but this is partly due to its not being laid on 
its proper bed. The specimens F F on the coloured plate show 
the smoothed external surface bleached light by exposure. We 
are informed by Signor Cellerini, the experienced capomaestro 
of the Opera del Duomo at Florence, that in old time this 
stone was quarried at Monsummano, at the northern extremity 
of the Monte Albano not far from Pistoja. A more modern 
source of supply is the Tuscan Maremma, where the stone, 
called ' Porta Santa,' is quarried between Pisa and Grosseto, 
near Gavorrano. From this place the stone has been brought 
for recent use on the new fa9ade of the Duomo at Florence. 

Other Tuscan marbles, such as those of Siena, that are not 
referred to by Vasari, are not noticed in this place. 


[See § 12, Of Travertine, ante, p. 51 f.] 

It is surprising that practically nothing appears to be known, 
either about the French sculptor mentioned here, ' Maestro 
Gian ' (or Jean), or about the French wood carver of the same 
name called by Vasari 'Maestro Janni,' who is referred to 
at the close of the ' Introduction ' to Sculpture, postea, p. 174. 
Equally strange is it that their works, which Vasari describes 



























S ^ 


OJ (/) 



c4 F^ 





"tfi ri 
ui ^ 

-t-J "^^ fll 

CJ _ N 
O ™ N 





fi, U O 

c . 










5 4; 


;^ I — I C 

5 1-3 g" 
Is 6 

2 o 

23 .2, 

o e s o 

Ph OtZi ti p-i 


S & „ 

C^ I — I 


° S 

<u ^ 

OJ >-, > 

ES g^ 

c3 "Ti ri (3 g 



in terms of high praise, and which are in public view in 
Rome and in Florence, do not seem to have attracted attention 
among students either of French art or of Italian. The 
standard older book on French artists abroad, Dussieux, Les 
Artistes Frangais a I'Etranger, Paris, 1856, takes no note of 
either of them, nor are they referred to in B6rard's Dictionnaire 
Biographique des Artistes Frangais du XII au XVII Sikcle, 
Paris, 1872. In the more recent Italian work however by 
A. Bertolotti, Artisti Francesi in Roma nei SecoU XV, XVI, 
e XVII, Mantova, 18S6, there is a mention on p. 220 of ' un 
Giovanni Chavenier, che forse disegno quel tempio tondo, 
attribuito dal Vasari all' architetto Jean,' and on p. 24 it is 
said that Giovanni Chiavier, o Chavenier, di Rouen lavor6 
pel Governo pontificio e mori a Roma nel 1527.' Bertolotti 
unfortunately gives no references to his authorities, while the 
work of Miintz, Les Arts a la Cour des Papes breaks off before 
the sixteenth century, and gives no help. 

In the course of our inquiries we communicated with the 
Director of the Biblioteca Vittorio Emmanuele at Rome, Com- 
mendatore Conte Gnoli, who kindly gave attention to the 
subject, and contributed to the Giornale d' Italia of Dec. 24, 
1906, an interesting article, in which, though he could give no 
account of Maestro Gian, he described fully the extant works of 
which Vasari writes, and made some pertinent suggestions as 
to the ' round temple. ' He thinks it unlikely that the building 
of a circular church from the foundations was contemplated by 
the French, and suggests that they were utilizing the founda- 
tions of a round chamber belonging to the Thermae of Nero 
which were in that neighbourhood, so that the ' round temple ' 
would have been like the present S. Bernardo in the Thermae of 
Diocletian. M. Marcel Reymond has suggested that it was the 
sack of Rome in 1527 that led to the abandonment of the project 
— for the date of the undertaking can be fixed in the reign of 
Fran9ois I of France, who came to the throne in 1515, from 
the fact that his cognizance, the salamander, occurs in the 
sculpture prepared for its embellishment. If the artist be really 
Bertolotti's 'Chavenier,' as he died in 1527, this fact would 
also explain the abandonment. 

The sculptures in question are in part incrusted in the fa9ade 


of the present church of S. Luigi (see ante, p. 52) and the fact 
that some of them are carved on curved surfaces shows at once 
that they were prepared for a building of cylindrical form. 
There are two large salamanders in round frames of which 
one is shown on Plate VI, and two panels higher up in the 
fafade with the curious device of an eagle with the head of a 
woman and outspread wings from which depend by ribbons on 
each side small medallions. There are also some lions' 
heads. The most curious piece of all is built into the wall of 
the Palazzo Madama close beside the church, and this contains 
the various devices that Vasari calls ' astrological globes ' 
'open books showing the leaves,' 'trophies,' etc. The panel 
is small and placed too high to be properly seen, but Sig. 
Gnoli, by the aid of the architect of the palace, was able to 
give a description of them in the article above mentioned. 
The work is very minute and elaborate, and there are inscrip- 
tions from which it appears that the devices signify that the 
seven liberal arts are nourished by the lilies of France. The 
sculpture is not only elaborate in design but most artistic as 
well as delicate in execution. The ' Salamander ' it will be 
seen is excellent work. M. Marcel Reymond points out that 
at the early part of the sixteenth century the Italians were 
accustomed to use marble for decorative carvings, and that this 
French artist, whoever he was, having been accustomed to 
carve the limestones of his native country, took naturally to 
the manipulation • of travertine, and that his success with the 
material attracted the attention and admiration of the Romans 
which Vasari 's commendations reflect. It has been noticed 
above that Michelangelo's frieze in the cortile of the Palazzo 
Farnese was not carved but modelled in stucco. See ante, 
P- S3- 

On the subject of the mysterious artist a word will be said 
in connection with the later passage indicated at the beginning 
of this Note. See postea, p. 175. 



[See § 20, Rusticated Masonry and the Tuscan Order, 
ante, p. 65.] 

In masonry of this kind the sides of the stones, where they 
come into contact with each other, are dressed smooth, but the 
face of each stone is left to project beyond the plane of the 
wall. The projections may be rough and irregular, in which 
case the appearance is that of natural stones, and a rugged 
rock-like aspect is given to the wall-face. The projections 
may however be wrought into bosses of regular form, or into 
the diamonds and facets of which Vasari goes on to speak, and 
of which a notable example is the so-called ' Palazzo de' 
Diamanti ' at Ferrara. 

This method of treating stones, at least when they are left 
rough and irregular, saves time and labour, and hence it has 
been in use among many ancient peoples, but almost always 
for substructures and parts not meant to be seen. The 
Romans made a more extensive employment of it, and we find 
it not only on sustaining walls, such as those of the Hadrianic 
platform of the Olympeion at Athens, but on monumental 
wall-faces, as on the enclosing wall of the Forum of Augustus 
near the Arco dei Pantani at Rome, one of the finest extant 
specimens of Roman masonry but still utilitarian in character. 
The deliberate use of rustication, as an element of artistic 
effect, on the fagade of a public building, is another matter, 
and it is doubtful if any instance of this occurs before the 
Italian Renaissance. There is a piece of Roman rusticated 
masonry behind the ancient theatre at Fiesole, the classical 
Faesolae, and Professor Durm thought at one time that the 
Florentine builders might have derived from this their idea of 
using the device as a means of expression in stonework. It 
may be questioned however whether this was visible at all in the 
fifteenth century, and it is much more likely that Renaissance 
rustication was a natural development from the treatment of 
the wall in many mediaeval Tuscan buildings, in which the 
surface of the stones is left to project in an irregular undesigned 
fashion. The Palazzo Vecchio and the Gothic Palazzo Ales- 
sandri at Florence are examples. In any case, in the hands 

Plate VI 


On the facade of S. Liiigi dei Francesi, Rome, by a French artist, 

' Maestro Gian ' 


of the architects of the Renaissance rustication became an 
important element in the architectural style of the period, and 
is one of the special contributions of this style to architecture 
at large. 

Rustication has two artistic advantages. In the first place, 
it emphasizes the separate stones in an assemblage, and when 
these are of great size and boldly hewn, as at the Pitti Palace 
at Florence, the work gains in dignity through this individual- 
izing of the distinct units of the structure. The bossed surface 
of some of the blocks at the Pitti stands out as much as three 
feet from the wall, and one of the stones is twenty eight feet 
in length. In the second place, this rustic treatment gives a 
look of rugged strength that is very effective, especially on the 
lower stages of monumental buildings, where indeed the treat- 
ment is most in place. The fa9ade of Michelozzo's Riccardi 
Palace, which Vasari refers to under its older name the ' Casa 
Medici ' is epoch-making in its fine handling of rustication in 
degrees according to the stages of the elevation. 

It needs hardly to be said that the elaborately cut facets 
which Vasari finds so beautiful, and of which we have seen an 
example in Fig. 4, ante, p. 69, are too artificial to be 
reckoned in good architectural style. It was a common 
practice, when the stones themselves were not all of the same 
size, to cut these diamonds and other geometrical forms in 
independence of the joints of the masonry, so that a facet 
might be half on one stone and half on another. As this 
ignores the individuality of the blocks, which the simpler rusti- 
cation so effectually emphasizes, it is by no means to be 
commended. Vasari 's last sentences in § 20, about this treat- 
ment of stonework in general, are excellent. The rustication 
on the Fortezza, shown in Fig. 4 is sincere, in that the 
jomtmg corresponds with the design. 


[See § 28, German Work (the Gothic Style), ante, p. 83.] 

Vasari's tirade against the iniquities of the mediaeval 

mason is of historical interest as reflecting the ideas of his age, 

but need not now be taken seriously. The reason why he 


vjrrites of it as ' German ' work is to be found in the close 
intercourse during the whole mediaeval period between 
(&ermany and Italy, that were nominally under the one imperial 
dceptre, and were only separated by the Brenner. ' Tedesco ' 
^tood to the mind of the Italian for everything north of the 
Alps, and though the pointed style in architecture was of 
French origin it appears to have found its way into Italy 
through the Tyrol. One of the first churches in this style in 
Italy, S. Francesco at Assisi, was designed by a German 
master from Meran. "feut not only does Vasari call the manner 
he detests ' Tedesco, ' me expressly, in this passage and else- 
where, ascribes it to the Goths, who, after ruining the ancient 
buildings and killing off the classically trained architects, had 
set to work to build with pointed archg ^j It is clear from 
this phrase, 'as^weil as~TroiinKe~description he gives of the 
little niches and pinnacles and leaves and the extravagant 
height of doors, that he had in his mind the pointed style, that 
dates from about the middle of the twelfth century. The 
Goths had then passed out of existence for some six hundred 
years and Vasari 's chronology is hopelessly at fault. The 
name ' Gothic ' however, which he was the first to apply in 
this sense, has adhered to the style ever since, and in spite of 
■efforts which have been made to supplant it, will probably 
remain always in use, though no one will now or in the future 
make the mistake of connecting it ethnologically with the 
historical Goths of the fifth and sixth centuries. 

The question who was actually the first to apply the term 
^ Gothic ' in this sense has been a subject of controversy. 
Some have attributed the invention of the term to Raphael, or 
the author of the Report on the condition of Roman monuments 
which passes under his name ; while others have claimed the 
■dubious honour for Cesare Cesariano, the translator and com- 
mentator of Vitruvius. Neither of these writers however uses 
the word in the sense referred to. Raphael it is true writes 
of a ' Gothic ' style in architecture which succeeded to the 
■classic Roman, but he makes it, quite correctly, belong to the 
actual era of the Gothic conquest of Italy in the fifth century 
and to the succeeding hundred years. The later mediaeval 
architecture Raphael terms ' architectura Tedesca,' and when 


he writes of this he seems to have in his view what we should 
rather call Lombard Romanesque, for he blames in it the 
• strange, animals and figures, and foliage out of all reason.' 
In other words Raphael, or the author of the Report, distinctly 
does not commit the historical enormity of dragging the word 
' Gothic ' six centuries out of its proper location and use. 

With regard to Cesare Cesariano, this personage was born 
in 1483 and studied architecture under Bramante. He was of 
good repute, Vasari tell us, {Opere, iv, 149) as a geometrician 
and architect, and at one time he was employed as director of 
the works on the cathedral of Milan, the interior of which he 
completed in its present form. In 152 1 there was published at 
Como, at the charges of certain scholars and notables of Milan 
and Como, an edition of Vitruvius headed ' Di Lucio Vitruvio 
PoUione a Caesare Augusto De Architectura Incomenza II 
Primo Libro. Translate In Vulgare Sermone Commentato Et 
Affigurato Da Caesare Caesariano Citadino Mediolanense 
Professore Di Architectura Et C*. ' Cesariano 's commentary 
is a fearsome work of appalling verbosity, but there is nothing 
in it about the Goths being the originators of the pointed style. 
He mentions the Goths on fol. cviii, b, but not in connection 
with architecture, whereas when he does refer to late mediaeval 
building he calls it not Gothic but German. On fol. xiii b 
and on the succeeding pages he gives some interesting plans 
and drawings j)f the cathedral of Milan, important in connec- 
tion with the theory of the use in Gothic design of the 
equilateral triangle, but distinctly notes it as constructed by 
'Germanici architecti,' ' Germanico more,' and 'secundum 
Germanicam symmetriam ' ; while on fol. ex b he again says 
that the building was in the hands of a German architect. 
(See Mothes, Baukunst des Mittelalters in Italien, Jena, 1884, 
p. 502 ff-) It is clear therefore that Cesare Cesariano has 
nothing to do with the use of ' Gothic ' as an architectural 
term, and his name need not be mentioned in this connection 

Filarete's Tmttato dell' ArcUtettma, dating about 1464 is 
not the source of the usage, and as far as can be seen at 
present the credit, if it be such, of the invention of the term 
Gothic rests with Vasari. 



[See § 33, Pictorial Mosaics for Walls, etc., ante, p. 93.] 

This reference on the part of Vasari to ' musaico di gusci d' 
novo,' ' mosaic of egg shells,' is puzzling. In his Life of 
Gaddo Gaddi (Opere, i, 348) he is more explicit, and states 
there ' Dopo ci6, ritorn6 Gaddo a Firenze, con animo di 
riposarsi : perchfe, datosi a fare piccole tavolette di musaico, ne 
condusse alcune di guscia d' uova con diligenza e pacienza 
incredibile; come si pu6, fra le altre, vedere in alcune che 
ancor oggi sono nel tempio di San Giovanni di Firenze.' 

The Lemonnier editors of Vasari added a note to this 
passage to the effect that one of these small plaques, repre- 
senting a Christ with an open book in His left hand, was 
preserved when they wrote in the Uffizi, and that the mosaic 
was ' composed of very minute pieces of egg-shell united 
together with a diligence and a patience truly incredible. ' This 
piece is now in the Chapel in the Bargello and Dr Giovanni 
Poggi has had the kindness to examine it minutely. He 
reports that there is no sign of the use of egg-shell in it, but 
that it is a finely executed mosaic of small pieces of coloured 
materials of a hard substance, in all respects similar to the 
portable Byzantine mosaics of which there are two notable 
specimens in the Opera del Duomo at Florence (Gori, Thes. 
Vet. Dipty Chorum, iii, 320 f.). Eugfene Miintz noticed various 
examples of this kind of work in an article in the Bulletin 
Monumental, 1886, and one of them, an ' Annunciation ' in the 
Victoria and Albert Museum, is a typical piece. It is composed 
of tesserae of minute size of different coloured marbles, lapis 
lazuli, etc., on a ground of gold formed of little cubes of the 
metal, all bedded in wax or similar yielding substance. There 
is no sign of the use of egg-shell, and indeed the idea of a 
mosaic of pieces of egg-shell seems absurd, because there is no 
variety of colour, and therefore no possibility of mosaic effect 
without painting each piece some special hue. 

Were it only Vasari who mentioned this supposed egg-shell 
mosaic the matter might be passed over, but as a fact one of 
the chapters of Cennino Cennini's Trattato is devoted to this 
very subject. He there describes, c. 172, what he calls a 


' mosaic ' of small cubes of the pith of feathers and of egg- 
shells, but the technique as he explains it is not mosaic, 
properly so-called, but rather an imitation of mosaic by means 
of painting on a roughened ground giving something of the 
effect of a ground laid with tesserae. Egg-shells are apparently 
crushed down on the surface so as to give it a sort of crackled 
appearance, and varieties of colour are added by the paint- 
brush. Vasari mentions in his life of Agnolo Gaddi, Opere, i, 
643 f., that he had seen a MS. of Cennino's treatise, and it is 
possible that he remembered the heading ' musaico di gusci d' 
uovo ' and, with his instinct for giving a personal interest to 
everything, attributed to one of his early Florentines, Gaddo 
Gaddi, the use of the supposed technique. We have not been 
able to hear of any extant piece of work corresponding to 
Cennino's description, though we have to thank several expert 
authorities for kindly interesting themselves in the matter. 
Cennino's notice is appended in the original. It does not occur 
in the Tambroni text. 

Description of the technique in Cennino Cennini, II Libro 
dell' Arte, ed. Milanesi, Firenze, 1859, cap. clxxii. 

' Come si Lavora in Opera Musaica per adornamento di 

Reliquie; e del Musaico di Bucciuoli di penne, e di Gusci 

d' Uovo. 

. . A questa opra medesima, e molto fine, buccioli di penne 
tagliati molto minuti si come panico e tinti si come detto ho. 
Ancora puoi lavorare del detto musaico in questo modo. 
Togli le tue guscia d' uovo ben peste pur bianche, e in sulla 
figura disegnata campeggia, riempi e lavora si come fussi 
coloriti : e poi quando hai campeggiata la tua figura coi colori 
propii da cassetta, e temperati con un poco di chiara d' uovo, 
va' colorendo la figura di parte in parte, si come facessi in 
su lo 'ngessato propio, pur d' acquerelle di colori; e poi 
quando k secco, vernica si come vernici I'altre cose in tavola. 
Per campeggiare le dette figure, si come fai in muro, a te 
conviene pigliare questo partito, di toglier fc^liette dorate, 
o arientate, o oro grosso battuto o ariento grosso battuto : 
taglialo minutissimo, e colle dette mollette va' campeggiando 
a modo Che campeggi i tuoi gusci pesti, dove il campo richiede 


oro. Ancora, campeggiare di gusci bianchi il campo ; bagnare 
di chiara d' uovo battuta, di quella che metti il tuo oro in 
sul vetro; bagna della medesima; metti il tuo oro come 
trae il campo; lascia asciugare, e brunisci con bambagia. 
E questo basti alia detta opera musaica, o vuoi greca.' 

[See § 35, An Ideal Palace, ante, p. 96.] 
The construction — in words — of an imaginary mansion of the 
type suited to the ideas of the Renaissance was a favourite 
exercise among both professional and amateur writers, and 
Vasari might have made a greater effort than he has done to 
rise to the height of his subject. The theme had some signi- 
ficance. The intent of those who dealt with it was to provide 
the man of the Renaissance with a fit setting for his life, and 
the spacious and lordly palace corresponded to the amplitude of 
the personality developed by the humanistic culture of the age. 
The representative man of the Renaissance may have missed 
certain of the higher ethical qualities, but he was many-sided, 
in mind and person a finely developed creature, self-reliant, 
instinct with vigour and set on mastery. Such a being 
demanded space and opulence with an air of greatness in his 
habitation, and fitly to house him was a task calling forth all 
the powers of the architects of the period. An imposing fa9ade 
with heraldic achievements should proclaim his worth, wide 
gateways and roomy courts and loggie give an impression of 
lordly ease, broad staircases and ample halls suggest the 
coming and going of companies of guests. He would need a 
garden, where marble seats in ilex shades or in grottoes beside 
cool fountains should await him in hours when reflection or 
reading, music or conversation, called him awhile from keen 
conflict of wit or policy with his peers in the world outside. 
He would exact moreover that over all the place Art should 
breathe a spell to soothe the senses and to flatter pride; art 
sumptuous in materials, accomplished in technique, pagan in 
form and spirit, should people the galleries with sculptured 
shapes, cover walls and roof with graceful imagery, and set 
here and there on cabinet or console some jewel of carved ivory 
or gilded wood or chiselled bronze. 


All the great architects of the Renaissance were at work on 
these palaces first at Florence and then in every rich Italian 
town, but the actual achievement that circumstances allowed 
fell far short of the ideal perfection, the effort after which was 
the best spiritual product of the Renaissance. Hence it became 
the fashion to draw out visionary schemes of princely dwell- 
ings, and even of whole city quarters for the setting of these, 
and ideal architecture furnishes matter for a chapter in the art 
history of the times. F ilarete's Trattato dell' Architettura is 
full of matter of the kind. In his eighth Book he describes 
a palace for a prince, in Book eleven an ideal mansion for 
a nobleman; and his proposed arrangements are all on 
a grandiose scale. Ammanati, who built the Ponte della 
Triniti at Florence, left a whole collection of drawings for a 
' Citti Ideale,' and Leonardo da Vinci's codices are fertile in 
similar suggestions. In France, where this phase of the 
artistic activity of the Renaissance was as much in evidence 
as in Italy, the actual palaces of king or noble were far outdone 
in splendour and in symmetry by the schemes of Palissy or 
De rOrme, of which Baron de GeymuUer has given an interest- 
ing notice in his Baukunst der Renaissance in Frankreich, 
published in the Handbuch der Architectur. 

Nor was it only the professed artists who occupied them- 
selves in this fashion. It was a literary exercise to scheme 
out in vague and general outlines the ideal habitation for 
prince or for community, and Rabelais' Abbey of Theleme, 
with its nine thousand three hundred and thirty two rooms, 
its libraries, theatres, and recreation halls, is the most famous 
example of its kind. In our own literature too there must not 
be forgotten Francis Bacon's Essay on Building, in which he 
draws out the general configuration of what he calls a ' perfect 
palace,' where the facade is in two wings 'uniform without, 
though severally partitioned within,' and these are to be ' on 
both sides of a great and stately tower, in the midst of the 
front; that as it were joineth them together on either hand ' 
Symmetry is of course the characteristic of all these ideal 
structures, as it was long ago of the visionary temple described 
by Ezechiel, and Vasari's palace is no exception to the rule 
Vasan s description does not convey a very clear idea of what 


he conceived the ideal palace would be, and he might have 
done better for the theme had he not hampered himself at the 
outset with the otiose comparison of the house to a human 
body. This he may have derived from Filarete, who also 
employs the conceit. 




What Sculpture is ; how good works of Sculpture are made, and what 
qualities they must possess to be esteemed perfect. 

§ 36. The Nature of Sculpture. 

Sculpture is an art .which by removing all that is 
superfluous from the material under treatment reduces it 
to that form designed in the artist's mind.^ 

§ 37- Qualities necessary for Work in the Round. 

Now seeing that all figures of whatever sort, whether 
carved in marble, cast in bronze, or wrought in plaster 
or wood, must be in salient work in the round, and seeing 
too that as we walk round them they are looked at from 
every side, it is clear that if we want to call them perfect 
they must have many qualities. The most obvious is / 
that when such a figure is presented to our eyes, it should 
show at the first glance the e xpression intended , whether 
pride or humility, caprice, gaiety or melancholy — accord- 
ing to the personage portrayed. It must also be balanced 
in all its members : that is, it must not have long legs, 
a thick head, and short and deformed arms; but be well 
proportioned, and from head to foot have each part con- 
forming with the others. In the same way, if the figure 
have the face of an old man, let it have the arms, body, 

' See note on ' The Nature of Sculpture,' at the close of the ' Introduction ' 
to Sculpture, postea, p. 179. 


legs, hands, and feet of an old man, the skeleton sym- 
metrically ordered throughout, the muscles and sinews and 
veins all in their proper places. If it have the face of a 
youth, it must in like manner be round, soft and sweet 
in expression, harmonious in every part. If it is not to 
be nude, do not let the drapery/ that is to cover it be 
so meagre as to look thin, nor clumsy like lumps of stone, 
but let the flow of the folds be so turned that they reveal 
the nude beneath — and with art and grace now show now 
hide it without any harshness that may detract from the 
figure. Let the hair and beard be worked with a certain 
delicacy, arranged and curled to show they have been 
combed, having the greatest softness and grace given to 
them that the chisel can convey ; and because the sculptors 
cannot in this part actually counterfeit nature, they make 
the locks of hair solid and curled, working from manner ^ 
rather than in imitation of nature. Even though the 
figures be draped, the feet and hands must be modelled 
with the care and beauty shown in the other parts. And 
as the figure is in the round, it is essential that in front, 
in profile, and at the back, it be of equal proportions, 
having at every turn and view to show itself happily 
disposed throughout. Indeed the whole work must be 

^ ' V\forking from manner.' Vasari refers here to what artists call 'treatment,' 
which is " process of analysis and grouping, applied to appearances in nature 
where the eye sees at first little more than a confused medley of similar forms 
that are perhaps constantly changing. Under such an aspect the hair as well 
as the folds of drapery on the human figure presented themselves to the early 
Greek sculptor, and it was a long time before he learned to handle them 
aright. In the case of the hair he had no help in previous work, for in 
Egyptian statues it is often covered, or is replaced by a formal wig, and in 
Assyrian art the hair is very severely though finely conventionalized. It was 
not until the age of Pheidias that the Greeks learned how to suggest the soft 
and ample masses of the hair, and at the same time to subdivide these into 
the distinct curls or tresses, each one ' solid,' as Vasari requires, but individually 
rendered with the minuter markings which suggest the structure and ' feel ' of 
the material. The Italians started of course with this treatment or ' manner ' 
already an established tradition founded on antique practice. In the mediaeval 
sculpture of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in France and England 
the hair is often very artistically rendered. 


harmonious, and exhibit pose, drawing and unity, grace 
and finish ; Ahese qualities taken together show the natural/ 
talent and capacity of the artist. 

§ 38. Works of Sculpture should be treated with a view 
to their destined position. 

Figures in relief as well as in painting ought to be 
produced with judgement rather than in a mechanical way,^ 
especially when they are to be placed on a hei ght, at.a. 
great distanc e. In this position t he fini.tjh nf the, las t 
t ouches is los t, though the beautiful form of the arms 
and legs, and the good taste displayed in the cast of 
drapery, with folds not too numerous, may easily be 
recognized; in this si mplicity and reserve is shown th e 
r efinement of the talent. Figures whether of marble or 
of bronze that stand somewhat high, must be boldly 
iiml prriit in order that the marble which is white and the 
bronze which tends towards black may receive some shad- 
ing from the atmosphere, and thus the work at a distance 
appear to be finished, thpugh from near it is seen to be 
left only in the rough./ This was a point to which the 
ancients paid great attention, as we see in their figures 
in the round and in half relief, in the arches and the 
columns in Rome, which still testify to the great judgement 
they possessed. Among the moderns, the same quality 
is notably exhibited in his works by Donatello. Again, 
it is to be remembered, that/when statues are to be in a 
high position, and there is n6t much space below to enable 
one to go far enough off to view them at a distance, but 
one is forced to stand almost under them, they must be 
made one head or two taller. This is done because those 
figures which are placed high up lose in the fore- 
shortening, when viewed by one standing beneath and 
looking upwards. Therefore that which is added in height 

* This paragraph opens up a subject of much artistic interest, on which see 
Note on 'Sculpture Treated for Position,' at the close of the 'Introduction' to 
Sculpture, postea, p. i8of. 



comes to be consumed in the foreshortening, and they 
turn out when looked at to be really in proportion, correct 
and not dwarfed, nay rather full of grace. And if the 
artist should not desire to do this he can keep the members 
of the figure rather slender and refined, this gives almost 
the same effect. 

§ 39. The Proportions of the Human Figure. 
It is the custom of many artists to make the figure nine 
heads high; dividing it in the following manner; the 
throat, the neck, and the height of the foot (from the instep 
to the sole) are equal to one head and the rest of the body 
to eight ; of these, the shinbone measures two heads, from 
the knee to the organs of generation two more, while 
the body up to the pit of the throat is equal to three, with 
another from the chin to the top of the forehead, so that 
there are nine in all.* As to the measurements across, 
from the pit of the throat to the shoulder on each 
side is the length of a head, and each arm to the wrist 
is three heads. Thus the man with his arms stretched 
out measures exactly as much as his height. 

§ 40. Artists must depend on their Judgement rather than 
on the Measuring Rule. 
After all the eye must give the final judgement, for, 
even though an object be most carefully measured, if 
the eye remain offended it will not cease on that account 
to censure it. 

* For Vasari, a practical artist, to commit himself to the statement that 
figures are made nine heads high, is somewhat extraordinary, for eight heads, 
the proportion given by Vitruvius (lll, l) is the extreme limit for a normal 
adult, and very few Greek statues, let alone living persons, have heads so 
small. The recently discovered ' Agias ' by Lysippus, at Delphi, is very 
nearly eight heads high. The ' Doryphorus ' at Naples not much more than 
seven. The ' Choisseul Gouffier Apollo ' about seven and a half, etc. Vasari 
seems to have derived his curious mode of reckoning from Filarete, who in 
Book I of his Treatise on Architecture measures a man as follows : Head = i 
head, neck = J, breast =1, body = 2, thighs =2, legs = 2, foot = J, total nine 
heads. Alberti, Leonardo, Albrecht DUrer, and indeed almost all the older 
writers on art, discourse on the proportions of the human figure. 


^et me repeat that although measurement exercises 
a just control in enlarging the figure so that the height 
and breadth, kept according to rule, may make the work 
well proportioned and beautiful, the eye nevertheless must 
decide where to take away and where to add as it sees 
defect in the work, till the due proportion, grace, design 
and perfection are attained, so that the work may be 
praised in all its parts by every competent authority. And 
that statue or figure which shall have these qualities will 
be perfect in beauty, in design and in grace. Such figures 
we call figures ' in the round,' provided that all the parts 
appear finished, just as one sees them in a man, when 
walking round him l/ the same holds good of all the details 
which depend on the whole. But it seems to me high 
time to come to the particulars of the subject. 


Of the manner of making Models in Wax and in Clay ; how they 
are draped, and how they are afterwards enlarged in proportion 
in the Marble ; how Marbles are worked with the point and the 
toothed tool, and are rubbed with pumice stone and polished till 
they are perfect. 

§ 41. The small Sketch-Model in Wax or Clay. 

Sculptors, when they wish to work a figure in marble, 
are accustomed to make what is called a model for it in 
clay or wax or plaster; that is, a pattern, about a foot 
high, more or less, according as is found convenient, 
because they can exhibit in it the attitude and proportion 
of the figure that they wish to make, endeavouring to 
adapt themselves to the height and breadth of the stone 
quarried for their statue. 

§ 42. The Preparation of Wax. 

In order to show how wax is modelled, let us first speak 
of the working of wax and not of clay. To render it softer 
a little animal fat and turpentine and black pitch are put 
into the wax, and of these ingredients it is the fat that 
makes it more supple; the turpentine adds tenacity, and 
the pitch gives it the black colour and a certain con- 
sistency, so that after it has been worked and left to stand 
it becomes hard. And he who would wish to make wax of 
another colour, may easily do so by putting into it red 
earth, or vermilion or red lead; he will thus make it of a 
yellowish red or some such shade; if he add verdigris, 
green, and so on with the other colours. But it is well 
to notice that the colours should be ground into powder 


and sifted, and in this state afterwards mixed with the 
wax made as liquid as possible. The wax is also made 
white for small things, medals, portraits, minute scenes 
and other objects of bas-relief. And this is done by 
.mixing powdered white lead with the white wax as 
explained above. 

§ 43. Polychrome Wax Effigies.^ 

Nor shall I conceal that modern artists have discovered 
the method of working in wax of all sorts of colours, so 
that in taking portraits from the life in half-relief, they 
make the flesh tints, the hair, the clothes and all the other 
details so life-like that to these figures there lacks nothing, 
as it were, but the spirit and the power of speech. 

§ 44. The Manipulation of Wax over an Armature. 

But to return to the manner of preparing the wax; 
when the mixture has been melted and allowed to go cold, 
it is made into sticks or rolls. These from the warmth 
of the hands become, in the working, like dough and are 
suitable for modelling a figure that is seated or erect or 
as you please. To make the figure support itself, it may 
have underneath the wax an armature either of wood, 
or of iron wires according to the pleasure of the artist; 
or this can be omitted if it suit him better. Little by 
little, always adding material, with judgement and manipu- 
lation, the artist impresses the wax by means of tools 
made of bone, iron, or wood, and again putting on more 
he alters and refines till with the fingers the utmost finish 
is given to the model. 

§ 45. The Small Model in Clay. 

Should he wish to make his model in clay, he works 
exactly as with wax, but without the armature of wood 
or iron underneath, because that would cause the clay to 

' See Note on ' Waxen Effigies and Medallions,' at the close of the ' Intro- 
duction' to Sculpture, postea, p. l88. 


crack open or break up ; ^ and that it may not crack while 
it is being worked he keeps it covered with a wet cloth 
till it is completed, 

§ 46. The Full-sized Model in Clay. 

When these small models or figures of wax or clay 
are finished, the artist sets himself to make another model 
as large as the actual figure intended to be executed in 
marble. In fashioning this he must use deliberation, 
because the clay which is worked in a damp state shrinks 
in drying; he therefore, as he works, adds more bit by 
bit and at the very last mixes some baked flour with the 
clay to keep it soft and remove the dryness.^ This trouble 
is taken that the model shall not shrink but remain 
accurate and similar to the figure to be carved in marble. 
To ensure that the large clay model shall support itself 
and the clay not crack, the artist must take some soft 
cuttings of cloth or some horse hair, and mix this with 
the clay to render it tenacious and not liable to split. The 
figure is supported by wood underneath with pressed tow 
or hay fastened to it with string.* The bones of the figure 
are made and placed in the necessary pose after the pattern 
of the small model, whether erect or seated ; and from 
the beginning to the end of the process of covering it 
with clay the figure is formed in the nude. 

§ 47. Drapery on the Clay Model. 

This completed, if the artist desire afterwards to clothe 
it with thin drapery, he takes fine cloth, if with heavy, 

^ One objection to an armature of wood is that the material may swell with 
the damp of the clay and cause fissures. Iron is objectionable because the 
rust discolours the clay. Modern sculptors often use gas-piping in the skeletons 
of their models, as this is flexible and will neither rust nor swell. 

' Baked flour used to be employed by plasterers to keep the plaster they 
were modelling from setting too rapidly. See the Introduction by G. F. 
Robinson to Millar's Plastering Plain and Decorative, London, 1897. The 
former used rye dough with good effect for the above purpose. 

'' The tow or hay tied round the wood affords a good hold for the clay, 
which is apt to slip on anything smooth. 


he takes coarse, and wets it and then covers it over with 
clay, not liquid but of the consistency of rather thick 
mud, and arranges it around the figure in such folds and 
creases as the mind suggests; this when dry, becomes 
hardened and continues to keep the folds.^ 

§ 48. Transference of the Full-sized Model to the Marble 

Models, whether of wax or of clay, are formed in the 
same manner. To enlarge the figure proportionately in 
the marble ^ it is necessary that against this same block, 
whence the figure has to be carved, there shall be placed 
a carpenter's square, one leg of which shall be horizontal 
at the foot of the figure while the other is vertical and is 
always at right angles with the horizontal, and so too 
with the straight piece above; and similarly let another 
square of wood or other material be adjusted to the model, 
by means of which the measures may be taken from the 
model, for instance how much the legs project forward 
and how much the arms. Let the artist proceed to carve 
out the figure from these measurements, transferring them 
to the marble from the model, so that measuring the marble 
and the model in proportion he gradually chisels away 
the stone till the figure thus measured time after time, 
issues forth from the marble, in the same manner that 
one would lift a wax figure out of a pail of water, evenly 
and in a horizontal position. First would appear the body, 
the head, and the knees, the figure gradually revealing 
itself as it is raised upwards, till there would come to view 
the relief more than half completed and finally the round- 
ness of the whole. 

§ 49. Danger of dispensing with the Full-sized Model. 

Those artificers who are in a hurry to get on, and who 
hew into the stone at the first and rashly cut away the 

° This method of prodncing drapery is not very artistic. 
' See Note on ' Proportionate Enlargement ' at close of the ' Introduction ' 
to Sculpture, postea, p. 190. 


marble in front and at the back have no means afterwards 
of drawing back in case of need.'' Many errors in statues 
spring from this impatience of the artist to see the round 
figure out of the block at once, so that often an error is 
revealed that can only be remedied by joining on pieces, 
as we have seen to be the habit of many modern artists. 
This patching is after the fashion of cobblers and not of 
competent men or rare masters, and is ugly and despicable 
and worthy of the greatest blame. 

§ 50. The Tools and Materials used in Marble Carving. 

Sculptors are accustomed, in working their marble 
statues, to begin by roughing out the figures with a kind 
of tool they call ' subbia,' which is pointed and heavy; 
it is used to block out their stone in the large, and 
then with other tools called ' calcagnuoli ' which have a 
notch in the middle and are short, they proceed to round 
it, till they come to use a flat tool more slender than 
the calcagnuolo, which has two notches and is called 
' gradina ' : with this they go all over the figure, gently 
chiselling it to keep the proportion of the muscles and 
the folds, and treating it in such a manner that the notches 
or teeth of the tool give the stone a wonderful grace. 
This done, they remove the tooth marks with a smooth 
chisel, and in order to perfect the figure, wishing to add 
sweetness, softness and finish to it, they work off with 
curved files all traces of the gradina. They proceed in 
the same way with slender files and straight rasps, to 
complete the smoothing process,^ and lastly with points 
of pumice stone they rub all over the figure to give that 
flesh-like appearance that is seen in marvellous works of 

' See Note on ' The Use of Full-sized Models ' at the close of the ' Intro- 
duction ' to Sculpture, postea, p. 192. 

8 The carvers' tools described by Vasari are the same that appear to have 
been in use in ancient Greece (see the article by Professor E. Gardner already 
referred to), that are figured in the Encydopidie of the eighteenth century, 
and are now in use. Fig. 2, E to J, ante, p. 48, shows a set of them actually 
employed in a stone carver's workshop at Settignano near Florence. 



sculpture, Tripoli earth is also used to make it lustrous 
and polished, and for the same reason it is rubbed over 
with straw made into bunches — till, finished and shining, 
it appears before us in its beauty.^ 

' Actual polish of the surface of a marble figure is to be avoided, as the 
reflections from it where it catches the light destroy the delicacy of the effect 
of light and shade. Greek marbles were not polished, save in some cases 
where the aim seems to have been to imitate the appearance of shining bronze, 
but the Greeks finished their marbles more smoothly than the sculptors of 
to-day, most of whom prefer a ' sensitive ' surfece on which the marks of the 
last deUcate chiselling can be discerned. Michelangelo's Dead Christ in 
the ' Pieta ' of St. Peter's, his most finished piece of marble work, may 
almost be said to show polish, and Renaissance marbles generally are quite 
as smoothly finished as antiques. In the case of coloured marbles, used for 
surface decoration in plain panels, polish is of course necessary in order that 
the colour and veining may appear, but it does not follow from this that a 
self-coloured marble, carved into the similitude of a face or figure, should be 


Of Low and Half Reliefs, the difficulty of making them and how to 
bring them to perfection. 

§ 51. The Origin of Reliefs. 

Those works that sculptors call half reliefs ^ were invented 
by the ancients to make figure compositions with which 
to adorn flat walls, and they adopted this treatment in 
theatres and triumphal arches, because, even had they 
wished to sculpture figures in the round, they could not 
place them unless they first constructed a standing ground 
or an open place that was flat. Desiring therefore to avoid 
this, they invented a kind of sculpture which they named 
half relief, and it is called ' mezzo rilievo ' still among 

§ 52. Pictorial or Perspective Reliefs. 

In the manner of a picture this kind of relief sets forth 
first the whole of the principal figures, either in half rouiid 
or still greater salience, as may happen, the figures on the 
second plane partly hidden by the first, and those on the 
third by the second, just as living people are seen when 
they are assembled and crowded together. In this kind 
of half relief, for the sake of perspective, they make the 
most distant figures low, some of the heads indeed 
extremely low, and no less so the houses and scenery 
which are the objects most remote. By none has this 

^ English terminology for the different kinds of reliefs, and for sculpture 
generally, is very deficient, and many Italian terms are employed. It may 
be noted that Vasari's 'half relief (mezzo rilievo) is the highest kind he 
mentions, and would correspond to what is called in English 'high relief.' 


species of half relief ever been better executed, with more 
observation, or with its figures diminished and spaced 
one from the other more correctly than by the ancients ; ^ 
fpr they, who were students of the truth and gifted artists, 
liever made the figures in such compositions with ground 
that is foreshortened or seems to run away, but placed 
them with their feet resting on the moulding beneath them. 
In contrast to this, some of our own moderns, over eager, 
have, in their compositions in half relief, made their 
principal figures stand on the plane which is in low relief 
and recedes, and the middle figures on the same plane 
in such a position that, as they stand, they do not rest 
the feet as firmly as is natural, whence it not infrequently 
happens that the points of the feet of those figures that 
turn their backs actually touch the shins of their own 
legs, so violent is the foreshortening. Such things are 
seen in many modern works, and even in the gates of 
the Baptistry and in many examples of that period. 
Therefore half reliefs of this character are incorrect, 
because, if the foremost figures project half out of the 
stone while others have to be placed behind them, there 
must be a rule for the retiring and diminution ; the feet 
of the figures have to be on the ground, so that the ground 
may come forward in front as required by the eye and 
the rule in things painted. Accordingly the figures must 
be gradually reduced in proportion as they recede till they 
reach the flattened and low relief; and because of the 
harmony required it is difficult to carry out the work 
perfectly seeing that in relief the feet and heads are fore- 
shortened. Great skill in design therefore is necessary 
if the artist wish to exhibit his ability in this art. The 
same degree of perfection is demanded for figures in clay 
or wax as for those worked in bronze and marble. There- \ 
fore of all the works which have the qualities that I indicate 
the half reliefs may be considered most beautiful and most 
highly praised by experienced artists. 

^See Note on 'Italian and Greek Reliefs,' at the close of the 'Introduction' 
to Sculpture, postea, p, 196. 


§ 53. Low Reliefs (Bassi Rilievi). 

The second species called low reliefs projects much 
less than the half reliefs; they have not more than half 
the boldness of the others, and one can rightly make in 
these low reliefs the ground, the buildings, the prospects, 
the stairs and the landscapes as we see in the bronze 
pulpits in San Lorenzo at Florence, and in all the low 
reliefs of Donatello, who in this art produced things truly 
divine with the greatest truth to nature. These reliefs 
present themselves easily to the eye and without errors 
or barbarisms, seeing that they do not project forward 
so much as to give occasion for errors or censure. 

§ 54. Flat Reliefs (Stiacciati Rilievi). 

The third species called low or flattened reliefs only 
shows up the design of the figure in the very lowest and 
most depressed relief. These reliefs are very difficult 
for they demand great skill in design and invention, 
and as all depends on the outlines it is a hard thing 
[ to impart charm to them. Donatello worked better here 
[ than did any other, with art, design and invention.^ In 
the ancient vases of Arezzo,* many figures, masks, and 

' Donatello's flat, or ' stiacciati ' reliefs are deservedly famous. The difficulty 
here is to convey the impression of solid form of three dimensions with the 
slightest possible actual salience. The treatment of the torso of the Christ 
in the marble 'Pieta' of the Victoria and Albert Museum is a good example. 

* The antique vessels of so-called ' Arezzo ' ware are called Aretine vases. 
Messer Giorgio was in duty bound to take some note of the ancient pottery of 
his native city for it was from this that the Vasari derived their family name. 
According to the family tree given in a note to the Life of an ancestor of the 
historian (Ofere, ed. Milanesi, II, 561), the family came from Cortona, and 
the first who settled in Arezzo was the historian's great-grandfather, one 
Lazzaro, an artist in ornamental saddlery. He had a son, Giorgio, who 
practised the craft of the potter, and was especially concerned with the old 
Roman Aretine vases the technique of which he tried to reproduce. Hence 
he was called ' Vasajo,' ' the vase maker,' from which came the family 
appellation Vasari. 

This ancient Aretine ware ' must be regarded as the Roman pottery par 
excellence' (Waters, History of Ancient Pottery, Lond., 1905, 11, 480). It 


other ancient compositions are to be seen in this sort of 
work : likewise in the antique cameos, in moulds for 
striking bronze pieces for medals, and also in coins. This 
style was chosen because, if the relief had been too high, 
the coins could not have been struck, for the blow 
of the hammer would not have produced the impression 
since the punches have to be pressed on to the cast 
material, and when this is in low relief it costs little trouble 
to fill the cavities of the punch. Now-a-days we see that 
many modern artists have worked divinely in this style, 
more even than did the ancients, as shall be fully described 
in their Lives. Therefore, he who recognizes in the halt 
reliefs the perfection of the figures so carefully made to 
diminish, and in the lower reliefs the excellence of the | 
design in the perspectives and other inventions, and in 
the flattened reliefs the clearness, the refinement and the 
beautiful form of the figures, will do well to regard them 
on account of these qualities as worthy of praise or blame, 
and will teach others also so to regard them, 

is practically the same ware that is known by the popular but unscientific 
term ' Samian, ' and consists in cups and bowls and dishes usually of a small 
size of a fine red clay, ornamented with designs in low relief, produced by 
the aid of stamps or moulds. It is these relief ornaments that Vasari had 
in his mind when he wrote the words in the text. Arezzo is noticed by 
Pliny and other ancient writers as a great centre for the fabrication of this 
sort of ware, and Vasari tells us how his grandfather, Giorgio the ' vasajo,' 
discovered near the city some kilns of the ancient potters and specimens of 
their work. Very good specimens of Aretine ware are to be seen in the 
Museum at Arezzo, and the fabrique is represented in all important collections 
of ancient pottery. 


How Models for large and small Bronze Figures are made, with the 
Moulds for casting them and their Armatures of iron ; and how 
they are cast in metal and in three sorts of Bronze ; and how after 
they are cast they are chased and refined ; and how, if they lack 
pieces that did not come out in the cast, these are grafted and 
joined in the same bronze. 

§ 55. The Full-sized Model for Bronze. 

It is the custom of competent artists, when they wish to 
cast large figures in metal or bronze,^ to make first a 
statue of clay as large as that intended to be cast in metal, 
and to perfect the clay statue as far as their art and their 
knowledge will allow. 

§ 56. The Piece-Mould in Plaster. 

When this, which they call the model, is finished and 
brought to this point of perfection, they then begin, with 
plaster that will set, to build over it piece by piece, making 
the pieces correspond to the relief of the model. On every 
piece they make a key, marking the pieces with numbers 

^ See Note on ' The Processes of the Bronze Founder ' at the close of 
the 'Introduction' to Sculpture, postea, p. 199, which the reader who is 
unacquainted with the subject, will find it useful to read forthwith. The 
best commentary on Vasari's and Cellini's account of bronze casting is to be 
found in the French EncydopSdie, where there is a description, with numerous 
illustrations, of the casting in 1699 of Girardon's great equestrian statue of 
Louis XIV, destined for the Place Vendome. It was claimed at the time 
to be the largest known single casting in the world, and represents in their 
utmost elaboration the various processes described by Vasari. Some of the 
illustrations are here reproduced, and will help to render clearer the descriptions 
in the text. 


or letters of the alphabet or with other signs in order 
that the pieces can be taken off and register together. So 
they mould it part by part, oiling the pieces of the cast 
where the edges have to be connected; till from piece to 
piece the figure grows, the head, the arms, the body and 
the legs, to the last detail, in such a manner that the 
concave of the statue, that is the hollow mould, comes 
to be imprinted on the inner surface with all the parts 
and with the very minutest marking which is in the 
model .2 This completed, the plaster casts are laid aside 
to harden. 

§ 57. The Construction of the Core. 

The workers then take a rod of iron longer than the 
whole figure that they wish to make, and that is to be 
cast, and over this they make a core of clay into which, 
while kneading it to make it soft, they mix horse dung 
and hair. The core has the same form as the model and 
is baked in successive layers so as to draw out the 
dampness of the clay; this is of use afterwards to the 
figure, for in casting the statue all this core, which is solid, 
leaves an empty space that is not filled with bronze, 
because if it were, the figure could not be moved on 
account of the weight. They make this core large enough 
and justly measured, so that when the layers are heated and 
baked, as has been said, the clay becomes well burned 
through and so entirely freed from damp, that in pouring 
the bronze upon it afterwards it does not spurt nor do 
injury, as has happened many times, involving the death 
of the masters and the ruin of the work. Thus they go 
on balancing the core and adjusting and examining the 
pieces, till they tally with it and represent it, so that there 

" Plate VII shows a section or two of a piece-mould round a portion of a 
figure. It will be noticed that the pieces are so planned that they will all 
come away easily from the model and not be held by any undercut projections. 
The small pieces are then all enclosed in an outer shell divided into two 
halves, and called in French ' chape ' answering to the ' cappa ' of Vasari's 
text. Plate VIII, A, shows the model of the Louis XIV statue as piece-moulded. 


comes to be left exactly the thickness, or, (if we like to 
say so,) the thinness, of the metal, according as you wish 
the statue to be. 

Frequently this core has an armature of rods of copper 
across it, and irons that can be taken out and put in to 
hold it with security and with greater strength.^ The core, 
after it is finished, is yet again baked with a gentle heat, 
and the moisture, should any have remained, entirely 
removed; it is then again laid aside. 

§ 58. The Piece-Mould lined with a Skin of Wax. 

Returning now to the pieces of the hollow mould, these 
are lined severally with yellow wax that has been softened 
and incorporated with a little turpentine and tallow.* 
When the wax is melted at the fire, it is poured into the 
two halves of the mould made up of the hollow pieces 
in such a manner as causes the wax to come thin according 
to the worker's idea for the cast, and the pieces, which 
have been shaped to correspond with the relief of the core 
already made of clay, are joined to it and fitted and grafted 

§ 59. This Skin of Wax applied over the Core. 

With thin skewers of copper the pieces of wax pierced 
with the said skewers are now fixed to the baked core, and 

^ In the case of a heavy casting such an armature is necessary, and must be 
carefully constructed to give support at all points. The armature within the 
core of the horse of Louis XIV is shown in Plate VIII, D. 

* Vasari here describes a method of constructing the indispensable shell of 
wax which is to be replaced by the bronze. The hollow piece-mould is lined 
section by section with wax and a core is then formed to fill the rest of the 
interior and touch the inner surface of the wax at every point. The plaster 
mould is then removed and the wax linings of each of its sections are applied, 
each in its proper place, to the core, and fixed thereon by skewers. There 
is then a complete figure in wax, but, as this is made up of very many 
pieces, it has to be gone over carefully to smootlj over the joins and secure 
unity of surface, Cellini's plan seems a better one. He lines his hollow 
mould with a sort of paste or dough, and then fills up with the core. The 
dough is then removed and wax is poured in in its place, thus forming a 
continuous skin and securing a more perfect unity in the waxen shell. 

Plate VII 



so, piece by piece, they are inserted and fitted to the figure 
and render it entirely finished. This completed they 
proceed to remove all the superfluous wax that has over- 
flowed into the interstices of the pieces, and bring it as 
well as possible to that finished excellence and perfection 
which one desires in the bronze cast. Before going 
further, the craftsman sets up the figure and considers 
diligently if the wax have any deficiency, and he proceeds 
to repair it and to fill up again, putting on more or taking 
away where necessary. ^ 

§ 60. The fire-resisting Envelope applied over the Wax 

After that, the wax being completed and the figure 
braced together, he puts it where fire can be applied to 
it ® on two andirons of wood, stone, or iron like a roast, 
arranging so that it can be raised or lowered ; and with 
moistened ash, specially fitted for that purpose, by means 
of a paint brush he covers the entire figure so that the 
wax is quite concealed, and over every hollow and chink 
he clothes it well with this material. Having applied 
the ash to it he replaces the transverse rods, which pass 
through the wax and the core, just as he has left them 
in the figure, because these have to support the core 
within and the mould without, which is the casing of the 
hollow space between the core and the mould, where the 
bronze is to be poured. When this armature has been 
fixed, the artificer begins to take some fine earth, beaten 
together with horse dung and hair, as I said, and carefully 

' On Plate VIII at B we see the core covered with the skin of wax and carefully 
gone over and finished in every part. The system of pipes with which it is 
covered are the ' vents ' that Vasari notices in § 62, and also the channels 
through which the melted wax is to escape and the molten bronze to enter, 
as noticed in §§ 63, 64. 

* Vasari actually says that it must be put 'al fuoco' 'to the fire,' but it is 
clear that he does not mean that heat is at once to be applied to it. If this 
were done the wax would all be melted off the core too soon, before it was 
covered by the outer skin. It is only when the wax has been securely 
enclosed between the core and the outer skin that heat is needed to melt it 
away and leave its place free for the molten metal. 



lays a very thin coating all over which he allows to dry, 
and so on time after time with other coatings, always 
allowing each to dry until the figure becomes covered with 
earth raised to the thickness of half a span at the most. 

§ 6i. The External Armature, 
This done, he girds those irons that hold the core 
within with other irons which hold the mould outside, 
and fixes them together, so that chained and bound the 
one to the other they form a mutual support,'' the core 
within sustaining the mould without and the mould without 
holding firm the core within. 

§ 62. The Vents. 
It is usual to make certain little pipes between the core 
and the outer mould called vents, that have issue upwards ; 
they are put, for instance, from a knee to an arm that 
is raised, because these give passage to the metal ^ to 
make up for that which on account of some impediment 
may not flow properly, and these little tubes are made 
many or few, according as the casting is difficult or not. 

§ 63. The Wax melted out. 
This done, the worker proceeds to apply heat to the 
said mould equally all over, so that it may become united 
and little by little be warmed through, and he increases 
the heat till the mould is thoroughly hot throughout, so 
that the wax which is in the hollow space becomes melted 
■ and all flows out at the spot through which the metal 
is to be poured, without any particle of the wax remaining 
within.^ To be sure of this, it is needful, before the 

' Plate VIII, c, shows this outer armature, with the ends of the transverse rods 
holding core and envelope together. 

8 'Give passage to the metal.' Their essential purpose is to allow for the escape 
of air which would be dangerous if driven by the metal into a confined space. 

' It should be understood that, in the process Vasari has in mind, the melted 
metal is introduced at the boitom of the mould so as to rise in it and expel 
before it the air. It is not poured in at the top. Hence the metal enters at the 
same orifice at which the wax flows out. 


pieces of wax are grafted in to their places on tiie figure, 
to weigh them piece by piece; in the same way after 
drawing out the wax, it must be weighed again, when 
by making the subtraction the artist sees if any wax be 
left between the core and the mould, and how much has 
come out. Notice that the skill and care of the artist is 
manifested in the process of taking out the wax; herein 
is seen the difficulty of producing the casts so that they 
come out sharp and beautiful, for if any of the wax be 
left, it would ruin the whole cast, especially that part 
where the wax remains. 

§ 64. The Mould in the Casting-pit. 

This finished, the craftsman puts the mould under 
ground near to the furnace where the bronze is melted, 
propping it so that the bronze may not strain it, and he 
makes the channels through which the bronze is to flow, 
and at the top he leaves a certain thickness, which allows 
for the surplus of the bronze to be sawn off afterwards, 
and this he does in order to secure sharpness. ^° 

§ 65. The Composition of the Bronze. 

The artist prepares the metal as he thinks fit, and for 
every pound of wax he puts ten pounds of metal. ^^ Statuary 
metal is made of the combination of two thirds of copper 
and one third of brass according to the Italian rule. The 
Egyptians, from whom this art took its origin, put into 

'" Plate VIII, D, gives a section through the model in the casting pit, when all is 
ready for the actual operation of introducing the molten metal. The wax has 
all been run out, and the outline of the figure and of the horse is marked by 
a double line with a narrow space between. It is this space that will be 
filled by the bronze which will be introduced through numerous channels so 
that it may be distributed rapidly and evenly over the whole surface it is to 
cover. When in the pit the mould is packed all round with broken bricks 
or similar material, so that 'the bronze may not strain it,' nor cause it to shift. 

" The wax has already been carefully weighed, and in order to estimate 
how much bronze will be required for the cast a rough calculation is made 
based on the amount of wax. 


the bronze two thirds of brass and one third of copper. 
In electron metal, which is the finest of all, two parts copper 
are put to one part silver. In bells, for every hundred 
parts of copper there are twenty of tin, in order that the 
sound of the bells may carry far and be more blended; 
and for artillery, in every hundred parts of copper, ten 
of tin.i2 

§ 66. Making up Imperfections. 

There only remains to us now to teach the method of 
grafting a piece into the figure should it have a defect, 
either because the bronze coagulated, or ran too thin, or 
did not reach some part of the mould. In this case let 
the artificer entirely remove the defective part of the cast 
and make a square hole in its place, cutting it out under 
the carpenter's square, then let him adjust a piece of metal 

^^ The subject of the composition of bronze and of other alloys of copper 
is a complicated one, for the mixtures specified or .gstabjished by analysis are 
very varied. Normally speaking, bronze is a mixture of copper with about 
ten per cent, of tin, brass of copper with twenty to forty per cent, of zinc. 
Vasari's proportions for bells and for cannon are pretty much what are given 
now. In the Manuel de Fondeur (Manuels Roret) Paris, 1879, 11, p. 94, 
eight to fifteeij per cent, of tin are prescribed for cannon, fifteen to thirty 
per cent, for bell metal, the greater percentage of tin with the copper 
resulting in a less tough but harder and so sharper sounding metal. It will 
be noted however that for statuary metal Vasari specifies a mixture not of 
coppej: and tin but of copper and brass, that is, copper ajid zinc. Brass is 
composed of, say, twenty-five per cent, of zinc and seventy-five per ceat. of 
copper, so that a mixture of two thirds, or sixty-six per cent., of copper with 
one third, or thirty-three per cent., of brass would work out to about ten parts 
of zinc to ninety of copper, and this agrees with classical proportions. The 
Greeks used tin for their bronzes, but various mysterious ingredients were 
supposed to be mingled in to produce special alloys. The Romans used zinc, 
or rather zinciferous ores such as calamine, with or in place of tin, and this 
is the tradition that Vasari follows. 

A recent analysis of the composition of the bronze doors at Hildesbeim, 
dating from 1015 A.D., gives about seventy-six parts copper, ten lead, eight 
tin, four zinc ; and of the ' Bernward ' pillar ascribed to about the same date, 
seventy copper, twenty-three tin, and five lead. These differences may surprise 
us, but metal casting in those days was a matter of rule of thumb, and we 
may recall Cellini's account of his cramming all his household vessels of 
pewter into the melting pot to make the metal flow for casting his ' Perseus.' 

Plate VIII 

. — J „ 

From the French Encyclopidie 


prepared for that spot, that may project upward as much 
as he pleases, and when fitted exactly in the square hole 
let him strike it with the hammer to send it home, and 
with files and tools make it even and thoroughly finished. 

§ 67. A simpler Method of Casting small Figures and 


Now should the artificer wish to cast small figures in 
metal, they are first made of wax, or if he happen to have 
them in clay or other material, he makes the shell of 
plaster over them in the same way as for the large figures, 
and fills it all with wax. But the shell must be moistened 
that the wax, when poured into it, may set (with a hard 
skin) by reason, of the coldness of the wet cast. Then 
by shaking about and agitating the cast, the wax (which 
is not hardened) within the cavity is thrown out, so that 
the cast remains hollow in the interior : the craftsman 
afterwards fills up the vacant space with clay and puts 
in skewers of iron. This clay serves then for core, but 
it must be allowed to dry well. Thereafter he adjusts 
the mould as for the other large figures, giving it its 
armature and placing the tubes for the vents. Then he 
bakes it and gets rid of the (skin of) wax and thus the 
vacant space remains clear so that the bronze can easily 
be poured in. The same is done with the low and half 
reliefs and with every other work in metal. 

§ 68. Chasing the Cast and Colouring the Bronze. 

These casts being finished, the workman then, with 
suitable tools, that is, with burins, burnishers, chasing 
tools, punches, chisels and files, removes material where 
needed, and where needed presses inward the overflow 
of the metal and smoothes it down ; and with other tools 
that scrape, he shaves and cleans the whole of it diligently, 
and finally with pumice stone gives the last polish. This 
bronze which is red when it is worked assumes through 
time by a natural change a colour that draws towards 


black. Some turn it black with oil, others with vinegar 
make it green, and others with varnish give it the colour 
of black, so that every one makes it come as he likes 

§ 69. Modern Tours de Force in small Castings. 

But that is a truly marvellous thing which is come to 
pass in our times, this mode of casting figures, large as 
well as small, so excellently that many masters make 
them come out in the cast quite clear so that they have 
not to be chased with tools, and as thin as the back of a 
knife. And what is more, some clays and ashes used for 
this purpose are actually so fine, that tufts of rue and 
any other slender herb or flower can be cast in silver and 
in gold, quite easily and with such success, that they are 
as beautiful as the natural ; from which it is seen that 
this art is more excellent now than it was in the time of 
the ancients. 


Concerning Steel Dies for making Medals of bronze or other metals 
and how the latter are formed from these metals and from 
Oriental Stones and Cameos. 

§ 70. The Fabrication of Matrices for Medals. 

The craftsman who wishes to make medals of bronze or 
silver or gold after the manner of the ancients, must first 
with iron punches work in relief the faces of steel dies 
of which the metal has been softened piece by piece in 
the fire; as for example, the head alone in low relief, in 
a single steel die; and so with the other parts which are 
joined to it. Fashioned thus of steel, all the dies needed 
for the medal are tempered by fire; and on the block of 
tempered steel, that is to serve for mould and matrix 
of the medal, the artist proceeds to imprint by means 
of hammer strokes the head and the other parts in 
their proper places. And after imprinting the whole, 
he diligently smoothes it and polishes it again, giving 
finish and perfection to the said mould that has afterwards 
to serve for matrix. Many artificers have been in the 
habit however of. carving the matrices with wheels, just 
as intaglio work is done in crystals, jaspers, calcedonies, 
agates, amethysts, sardonyx, lapis lazuli, chrysolites, cor- 
nelians, cameos and other oriental stones; and the work 
done in this way makes the matrices more sharp, as is 
the case in the aforesaid stones. In the same way they 
make (the matrix for) the reverse of the medal, and with 
these two, the matrix of the head and that of the reverse 
side, (trial) medals of wax and of lead are struck. These 
are moulded afterwards with a very finely powdered earth 
suitable for the purpose; and in these moulds, when 


the wax or leaden (trial) medal has been taken out, and 
they are pressed together in the frame, you may cast any 
kind of metal which pleases you for your medal. 

These casts are then replaced in the steel matrices that 
correspond to them and by force of screws or wedges and 
with hammer blows they are pressed so tightly, that they 
take that finish of surface from the stamp that they have 
not taken from the casting process. But coins and other 
medals in low relief are stamped without screws, by blows 
of the hammer struck by hand.^ 

§ 71. The Cutting of Intaglios and Cameos. 

Those oriental stones that we spoke of above are cut 
in intaglio with wheels by means of emery, which with 

^ Vasari's account of the making of dies for medals and of the process of 
striking these is clear, and agrees with the more elaborate directions contained 
in the seventh and following chapters of Cellini's Trattato delV Oreficeria. 
Cellini however, unlike Vasari, was a practical medallist, and he goes more 
into detail. The process employed was not the direct cutting of the matrices 
or dies with chisels, nor, as gems are engraved, by the use of the wheel and 
emery (or diamond) powder, but the stamping into them of the design 
required by main force, by means of specially shaped hard steel punches on 
which different parts of the design had been worked in relief. The steel of 
the matrix or die had of course to be previously softened in the fire, or these 
punches would have made no impression on it. When finished it was again 
hardened by tempering. It may be noticed that the dies from which Greek 
coins were struck were to all appearance engraved as gems were engraved 
by the direct use of cutting tools or tools that, like the wheel, wore away the 
material with the aid of sand or emery. 

The two matrices, or dies, for the obverse and reverse of the medal, being 
now prepared, the medal is not immediately struck. In the case of the Greek 
coin a bean-shaped piece, or a disk, of plain metal, usually of silver, called 
a ' blank ' or ' flan,' was placed between the two dies and pressed into their 
hollows by a. blow or blows of the hammer, so that all that was engraved 
on them in intaglio came out on the silver in relief. Vasari's process is more 
elaborate. A sort of trial medal is first struck from the matrices in a soft 
material such as lead or wax, and this trial medal is reproduced by the 
ordinary process of casting in the gold or silver or bronze which is to be the 
matfrial of the final medal. This cast medal has of course the general form 
required, but it is not sharp nor has it a fine surface. It is therefore placed 
between the matrices and forcibly compressed so as to acquire all the finish 
of detail and texture desired. 


the wheel cuts its way through any sort of hardness of 
any stone whatever. And as the craftsman proceeds, he 
is always testing by wax impressions the intaglio which 
he is fashioning ; and in this manner he goes on removing 
material where he deems it necessary, till the final touches 
are given to the work. Cameos however are worked in 
relief; and because this stone is in layers, that is white 
above and dark underneath, the worker removes just so 
much of the white as will leave the head or figure white 
on a dark ground. And sometimes, in order to secure 
that the whole head or figure should appear white on a 
dark ground, he dyes the ground when it is not so dark 
as it should be. In this art we have seen wondrous and 
divine works both ancient and modern. 


How works in White Stucco are executed, and of the manner of 
preparing the Wall underneath for them, and how the work is 
carried out. 

§ 72. Modelled and stamped Plaster Work. 

The ancients, when they wished to make vaults or panels 
or doors or windows or other ornaments of white stucco, 
were in the habit of building a skeleton of walling either of 
baked bricks or of tufa, that is, a stone that is soft and 
easy to cut. Making use of these, they built up the bones 
underneath, giving them the form of mouldings or figures 
or whatever they wished to make, cutting them out of 
the bricks or stones, which were afterwards put together 
with mortar. 

Then with stucco, which in our fourth chapter (of 
Architecture) we described as crushed marble mixed with 
lime from travertine, they begin to cover the aforesaid 
skeleton with the first daub of rough stucco, that is coarse 
and granulated, to be covered over with finer when the 
first stucco has set and is firm, but not thoroughly dry. 
The reason for this is that to work the mass of the material 
above a damp bed makes it unite better, therefore they 
keep wetting the stucco at the place where the upper 
coating is laid on so as to render it more easy to work. 

To make (enriched) mouldings or modelled leafage it 
is necessary to have shapes of wood carved in intaglio 
with those same forms that you wish to render in relief. 
The worker takes stucco that is not actually hard nor 
really soft, but in a way tenacious, and puts it on the 


work in the quantity needed for the detail intended to be 
formed. He then places over it the said hollowed mould 
which is powdered with marble dust, striking it with a 
hammer so that the blows fall equally, and this leaves the 
stucco imprinted; he then proceeds to clean and finish 
it so that the work becomes true and even. But if he 
desire the work to have bolder relief in projection, in 
the spot where this is to come he fixes iron supports or 
nails or other armatures of a similar kind which hold the 
stucco suspended in the air, and by these means the stucco 
sets firmly, as one sees in the ancient edifices where the 
stucco and the iron supports are found still preserved 
to the present day.^ Moreover, when the artificer wishes 
to produce a composition in bas-relief on a flat wall, he 
first inserts numerous nails in the wall, here projecting 
less, there more, according as the figures are to be 
arranged, and between these he crowds in little bits of 

^ Plaster, or stucco, is sometimes regarded as an inferior material only to be 
used when nothing better can be obtained. It should not however be judged 
from the achievements of the domestic plasterer of to-day, who has to trust 
sometimes to the wall-paper to keep his stuff from crumbling away. Plaster 
as used by the ancients, and through a good part of the mediaeval and 
Renaissance periods up to the eighteenth century, is a fine material, susceptible 
of very varied and effective artistic treatment. It was made by the Greeks of 
so exquisite a quality that it was equivalent to an artificial marble. It could 
be polished, so Vitruvius tells us, till it would reflect the beholder's face as in 
a mirror, and he describes how the Roman connoisseurs of his time would 
actually cut out plain panels of Greek stucco from old walls and frame them 
into the plaster-work of their own rooms, just as if they were slabs of precious 
marble. {£>e Architectura, vii, iii, 10.) Vitruvius prescribes no fewer than 
six successive coats of plaster for a wall, each laid on before the last is dry, 
the last coat being of white lime and finely powdered marble. 

By the Villa Farnesina at Rome some Roman, or more probably Greek, 
plaster decoration was discovered a few years ago that surpassed any work 
of the kind elsewhere known. We find there the moulded or stamped 
ornament Vasari describes, as well as figure compositions modelled by hand, 
while the plain surfaces are in themselves a delight to the artistic eye. 

Among the best and best known stucco work, in figures and ornaments, of 
the later Italian Renaissance, may be ranked that at Fontainebleau by 
Primaticcio and other artists from the peninsula who were invited thither by 
Franyois I, for the decoration of the ' Galerie Fran9ois I ' and the ' Escalier 
du Roi.' 


brick or tufa, in order that the ends or heads of these 
may hold the coarse stucco of the first rough cast, which 
he afterwards goes on refining delicately and patiently 
till it consolidates. While it is hardening he works 
diligently, retouching it continually with moistened paint- 
brushes in such a manner as may bring it to perfection, 
just as if it were of wax or clay. By means of this same 
arrangement of nails and of ironwork made on purpose, 
larger and smaller according to need, vaults and partition 
walls and old buildings are decorated with stucco, as one 
sees aH over Italy at the present day to be the habit of 
many masters who have given themselves to this practice. 
Nor is one to suspect work so done of being perishable; 
on the contrary it lasts for ever, and hardens so well as 
time goes on, that it becomes like marble. 


How Figures in Wood are executed and of what sort of Wood is best 
for the purpose. 

§ 73- Wood Carving. 

He who wishes figures of wood to be executed in a 
perfect manner, must first make for them a model of wax 
or clay, as we have said. This sort of figure is much 
used in the Christian religion, seeing that numberless 
masters have produced many crucifixes and other objects. 
But in truth, one never gives that flesh-like appearance 
and softness to wood that can be given to metal and to 
marble and to the sculptured objects that we see in stucco, 
wax, or clay. The best however of all the woods used 
for sculpture is that of the lime, because it is equally 
porous on every side, and it more readily obeys the rasp 
and chisel. But when the artificer wishes to make a large 
figure, since he cannot make it all of one single piece, 
he must join other pieces to it and add to its height and 
enlarge it according to the form that he wishes to make. 
And to stick it together in such a way that it may hold 
he must not take cheese mucilage, because that would 
not hold, but parchmant-glue ; ^ with this melted and the 

^ The composition of these two mucilages is given by Theophilus, in the 
Schedula, Book one, chapter 17, and also by Cennini, Trattato, chapters 

Soft cheese from cows' milk must, according to the earlier recipe, be 
shredded finely into hot water and braised in a mortar to a paste. It must 
then be immersed in cold water till it hardens, and then rubbed till it is 
quite smooth on a board and afterwards mixed with quick lime to the 
consistency of a stiff paste. Panels cemented with this, says Theophilus, 


said pieces warmed at tiie fire let him join and press them 
together, not with iron nails but with pegs of the wood 
itself; which done, let him work it and carve it according 
to the form of his model. There are also most praise- 
worthy works in boxwood to be seen done by workmen 
in this trade, and very beautiful ornaments in walnut, 
which when they are of good black walnut almost appear 
to be of bronze. We have also seen carvings on fruit 
stones, such as those of the cherry and apricot executed' 
by the hand of skilful Germans ^ with a patience and 
delicacy which are great indeed. And although foreigners 
do not achieve that perfect design which the Italians exhibit 
in their productions, they have nevertheless wrought, and 
still continue to work, in such a manner that they bring 
their art to a point of refinement that makes the world 
wonder : as can be seen in a work, or to speak more 
correctly, in a miracle of wood carving by the hand of 
the Frenchman, Maestro Janni, who living in the city of 
Florence which he had chosen for his country, adopted, 
for his designs, in which he always delighted, the Italian 
style. This, with the practice he had in working in wood, 
enabled him to make a figure in lime wood of San Rocco 
as large as life. With exquisite carving he fashioned 
the soft and undercut draperies that clothe it, cut almost 
to the thinness of paper and with a beautiful flow in 
the order of the folds, so that one cannot see anything 
more marvellous. In like manner, he has carried out the 
head, beard, hands and feet of that Saint with such per- 
fection that it has deserved, and always will deserve infinite 
praise from every man ; and what is more, in order that 
the excellence of the artist may be seen in all its parts, 

will be held so fast when they are dry that neither moisture nor heat will 
bring them apart. Vasari does not seem to have such faith in the mucilage, 
and prefers that made from boiling down shreds of parchment and other 
skins. The twelfth century writer knows how to make this also. See chapter 
eighteen of the first Book of the Schedula. 

''■ Every museum contains examples of these delicate German carvings in 
hard materials. 


the figure has been preserved to our days in the church 
of the Annunziata at Florence beneath the pulpit, free from 
any covering of colour or painting, in its own natural 
colour of wood and with only the finish and perfection that 
Maestro Janni gave it, beautiful beyond all other figures 
that can be seen carved in wood.^ And this suffices for 

' In a Note to the 'Introduction' to Architecture, ante, p. 128 f., an 
account was given of some sculptures in travertine on the facade of the 
church of S. Luigi dei Francesi at Rome by a ' Maestro Gian ' who 
has been conjecturally identified as a certain Jean Chavier or Chavenier 
of Rouen who worked at Rome in the first quarter of the sixteenth century. 
Vasari in this place introduces an artist of the name of ' Maestro Janni 
francese,' and the question at once arises whether he is the same person as the 
' Maestro Gian ' of Rome. 

The statue here described is to be seen in the church of the Annunziata at 
Florence, but not where Vasari saw it. It has been placed for about the 
last half century in the spacious round choir, where it occupies a niche in 
the wall of the second chapel to the left as one faces the high altar. It 
has been painted white in the hope that it may be mistaken for marble, and 
this characteristic performance dates from about 1857. Certain fissures observable 
show however that it is of wood, and one of the Frati remembers it when it 
was as Vasari saw it 'nello stesso colore del legname.' The work is shown 
on Plate IX. We have been unable to discover anything certain about the artist. 
The figure, which is in excellent preservation, speaks for itself. The Saint 
has a tight fitting cap over his head and curling hair and beard. His eyes 
are almost closed as he looks down with a somewhat affected air at his 
wounded leg to which the finger of his right hand is pointing. The other 
hand holds a. staff, round which the drapery curls and over the top of which 
it is caught. This drapery bears out Vasari's description of it as ' traforato ' 
' cut into. ' It is floridly treated with the sharp angles common in the carving of 
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Germany, Flanders, and parts of France. 
M. Marcel Reymond, who has kindly given his opinion on the photographs 
submitted to him, has written about it as follows : ' Le St Roch, par la 
surcharge de vetements, I'exces de reliefs, I'agitation des draperies, se 
rattache a I'art franyais tel qu'il s'etait constitu^ au xiv"" siecle, et tel qu'il 
s'etait continue jusqu'au xvi°'° siecle, notamment dans le Bourgogne et la 
Champagne.' He does not consider the two ' Maltres Jean' the same 
person. ' Ce sont sans doute deux artistes du xvi™' siecle, I'un travaillant la 
pierre, le travertin, I'autre travaillant le bois. C'est leur aptitude a travailler 
ces deux malieres, que les artistes italiens travaillaient moins bien que les 
franjais qui a. retenu I'attention de Vasari sur eux et qui leur a fait attribuer 
une place si importante dans les prefaces de Vasari.' Our study of the 
originals at Rome and Florence has led us to the same opinion. The S. 


a brief notice of all the things relating to sculpture. Let 
us now pass on to painting. 

Rocco is Gothic in feeling, the ' Salamander ' and other pieces at Rome are 
Renaissance. The Roman 'Maestro Gian' may be credited with an Italian 
style, but Vasari does not show much critical acumen when he sees ' la 
maniera italiana' in the S. Rocco of the Florentine Janni. 

Plate IX 

by a French Artist 
' Maestro Janni,' 
in the Church of 
the Annunziata, 




[§ 36, The Nature of Sculpture, ante, p. 143.] 

■^The remark with which Vasari opens his ' Introduction ' to 
Sculpture, though it sounds rather trite, involves a point of 
some interest. Vasari says that^he sculptor removes all that 
is superfluous from the material under treatment, and reduces 
it to the form designed for it in his mind^* This is true of the 
technique of sculpture proper, that is stone or marble carving, 
but there are processes in the art other than that of cutting 
away a block of hard material. Mi chelangelo , i n a lette r he 
wroteJn^JLg49J:n BenedettoJVarchi,_oa-the-e3rer-recurring theme 
of the relative dignity o f painting and sculpture, notices the 
fact tha t the sculpto r proceeds in two ways, by th e progre ssive 
reduction of a mass, as is the case with the marble carver, or 

_b his o_wii words, ' per forza di levare ' ; and_als£Lhy. successive 
additions, as in modellin g in clay or wax, which he calls 'per 

-K:ia_di pnrre, ' ' by the method of putting o n. ' The distinction 
is one of fundamental importance for a right understanding of 
the art, and upon it depends the characteristic difference 
between Greek reliefs, which are almost all carved in marble, 
and if not are beaten up on metal plates by the repoussd 
process, and Italian reliefs that are very often in cast bronze, 
the models for which have been prepared by modelling, ' per 
via di porre,' in wax. On this point something will be found 
in the Note on ' Italian and Greek Reliefs,' postea, p. 196 f. 

With regard to sculpture effected ' by taking away, ' ' per 
forza di levare,' Michelangelo has left a famous utterance in 


one of his sonnets, No. xv in the edition of Guasti, which 
opens as follows : — 

' Non ha 1' ottimo artista alcun concetto, 

Ch' un marmo solo in si non circonscriva 
Col suo soverchio; e solo a quello arriva 
La man che ubbidisce all' intelletto,' 

and is thus translated by J. A. Symonds : — 

' The best of artists hath no thought to show 

Which the rough stone in its superfluous shell 
Doth not include. To break the marble spell 

Is all the hand that serves the brain can do.' 

The conceit is really a classical one, and is probably due to 
some Greek writer used by Cicero in his tract De Divinatione. 
Some one had testified to the fact that, in a certain marble 
quarry on Chios, a block, casually split open, had disclosed a 
head of Pan; and Cicero, or the writer he had before him, 
remarks that such a chance might occur, though the similitude 
would only be a rude one. In any case however, he goes on, 
it must be conceded that even the very finest heads imaginable 
are really in existence throughout all time in every block of 
stone of sufficient size. All that even a Praxiteles could do 
would be to bring them into view by taking off all that was 
superfluous in the marble. He would add nothing to what 
was there already. The whole process would be the removal 
of what was superfluous and bringing to light what was con- 
cealed within. 


[§ 38, Works of Sculpture should be treated with a view to 
their destined Position, ante, p. 145.] 

Vasari is dealing with sculpturesque treatment as conditioned 
by the position and lighting for which works of statuary are 
destined, and a somewhat interesting question in the aesthetics 
of tjje plastic art is opened up. 

/There are here two matters to be distinguished ; one is the 
genera l treatment of a figure or relief in relation to position, 
and t'Ee" otJierTs the deliberate altera tion in the proportions of 


it, with a view to the same consideration. It is almost a 
matter of course that an artist, in preparing his model, will 
keep in view the aspect under which the finished work will be 
presented to the spectator, but the definite change in propor- 
tions is another matter. Vasari is clear in his own mind that 
Donatello and other sculptors did make changes of proportions 
as well as of general treatment on the grounds indicated, but 
in alleging this he is not drawing on his own expert knowledge 
as an artist, so much as echoing a judgement of literary critics 
often expressed in both ancient and modern times. There is 
a passage in Plato's Sophist which shows that in Greek 
aesthetics this question was discussed, and a distinction is there 
drawn, pp^ 235-6, between exact imitation of nature, and an 
imitation that modifies the forms of nature for artistic effect. 
In large works, Plato points out, if the true proportions were 
given ' the upper part which is further off from the eye would 
appear to be out of proportion in comparison with the lower, 
which is nearer; and so our artists give up the truth in their 
images and make only the proportions which appear to be 
beautiful disregarding the true ones.' The same idea con- 
nected with a concrete instance is embodied in a legend 
preserved in some verses by the Byzantine writer Tzetzes, to 
the effect that Pheidias and Alcamenes competed on one 
occasion with rival figures of the goddess Athene. Alcamenes 
finished his with great delicacy, and on a near view it was 
preferred to that by Pheidias. The latter sculptor, ' being 
versed in optics and geometry,' had allowed for distance and 
exaggerated certain details. When both figures were put into 
position the superiority of that by Pheidias was at once 
apparent. It has been argued from a passage in Eustatius 
that Pheidias fashioned his Zeus at Olympia with the head 
slightly inclined forwards, so as to bring it more directly into 
view from the floor of the temple below. 

In modern times Donatello 's works have been specially 
singled out as illustrating this same principle, and not by 
Vasari alone. The following, for instance, is an obiter dictum 
of the Florentine writer Davanzati in a letter aflSxed to his 
translation of Tacitus published first in 1596, (see Opere di 
Tacito, Bern. Davanzati, Padova, 1755, p. 656), where he says, 


' You must look at the way an effect is introduced, as in the 
case of Donatello and his famous Zuccone (Bald Head) on our 
Campanile of the Duomo. The eyes of this statue as one looks 
at it on high seem as if dug out with the spade, but if he had 
worked it on the ground (for a near view) the figure would 
appear to be blind. The reason is that distance swallows up 
all refinement of work (la lontananza si mangia la dili- 
genzia) ... In the same way the rudeness of rustic work on 
great palace walls does not take away from but rather adds to 
the effect of majesty.' Modern critics have agreed in com- 
mending Donatello for his judicious treatment, with a view to 
situation, of works like the statues on the Campanile, which 
are more than fifty feet above the ground. Hans Semper 
praises specially from this stand-point the ' Abraham and 
Isaac ' on the Campanile, and remarks that if this group were 
taken down and seen on the ground there would be a great 
outcry about faults of proportion in the legs, (Donatello, 
Wien, 1875, p. 122.) In Lord Balcarres's recent book on 
Donatello there is a discussion of the Campanile statues, and 
other works by the master, in relation to the same aesthetic 
principle, {Donatella, London, 1903, p. 17 £f.) 

There is no question that the boldness and vigour which 
were characteristic of Donatello were well suited to give his 
works a telling effect at a distance, and this may be noticed in 
the case of his ' Cantoria ' with the dancing children In the 
Opera del Duomo at Florence. We are reminded here of the 
Pheidias and Alcamenes story. On a near view Donatello's 
Cantoria suffers in a comparison with the more delicate work 
on the same theme of Luca della Robbia, but when both 
galleries were ' in position,' high up, and in the semi-darkness 
of the Duomo, the effect of Donatello's relief must have been 
far finer. This bold and sketchy treatment was not due to the 
fact that the master could work in no other way, for Donatello 
treated very low relief, spoken of later on by Vasari as ' stiac- 
ciato,' with remarkable delicacy and finish. Hence we may 
fairly credit him with intention in the strong effects of some 
of his monumental works. 

This is however quite a different matter from deliberate 
alteration of the proportions of a figure in view of the position 


it is to occupy. In spite of what Vasari and some modern 
writers have said, it must be doubted whether Donatello or 
any other responsible sculptor has done anything of the kind. 
Vasari speaks of figures ' made a head or two taller ' when they 
have to be seen in a near view from below, but he does not 
refer to any examples. Decorative figures of elongated pro- 
portions may be instanced, but it does not follow that these 
proportions were intended to correct perspective foreshortening. 
The twelfth century statues in the western portals at Chartres 
are curiously elongated, and so too are the stucco nymphs of 
Primaticcio in the Escalier du Roi at Fontainebleau, but in 
both cases the figures are but little above the level of the eye, 
and their shape is certainly not due to any such consideration 
as was in the mind of Vasari. The actual proportions of 
Donatello 's Campanile -statues seem perfectly normal, though 
the works may have been deliberately treated with a view to 

It is worth notice that, proportions apart, the principle of 
' treatment for position ' has by no means been generally 
observed. In the greatest and most prolific periods of 
sculpture indeed, there seems to have been little consistency 
of practice in this regard, while some of the finest decorative 
works in the world appear to have been very little affected by 
any considerations of the kind. As in duty bound, Vasari 
appeals to the antique, but as a matter of fact, classical 
decorative sculpture exhibits only in a very minor degree these 
studied modifications of treatment in relation to position. In 
the frieze of the Parthenon the background is cut back a little 
deeper above than below, so as to increase the apparent salience 
of the parts farthest from the eye, and on the column of 
Marcus Aurelius at Rome, which may have been in Vasari 's 
mind when he mentions reliefs on columns, the salience of the 
relief is much bolder above than below. The well-known band 
of ornament on the framing of Ghiberti's ' Old Testament ' 
gates shows similar variety in treatment. On the earlier 
column of Trajan, on the other hand, the eye can detect no 
variation in treatment of the kind. The groups from the 
pediments of the Parthenon give little indication that they 
were designed to be looked at sixty feet above the eye, while 


the heads by Scopas from the pediments at Tegea are finished 
with the utmost delicacy, as if for the closest inspection. 

In the matter of the choice of low or high relief according 
to the distance from the eye, the frieze of the Parthenon is 
often adduced as canonical, because, being only visible from 
near, it is in very low relief. It is forgotten however that the 
nearly contemporary friezes on the Theseum and from the 
interior of the temple at Bassae, though they were correspond- 
ingly placed and actually nearer to the eye, are both in high 
relief. On the Roman triumphal arches, of which Vasari 
writes, there are similar anomalies. Thus the well-known 
panels within the passage way of the Arch of Titus, that must 
have been calculated for very near stand-points, are in boldest 

The magnificent decorative sculpture on the French Gothic 
cathedrals shows little trace of the sort of calculation here 
spoken of. It is true that the figures of Kings in the 
' Galeries des Rois ' across the west fronts are as a rule rudely 
carved, but this is because they are so purely formal and give 
the artist little opportunity. At Reims some of the finest and 
most finished work is to be found in the effigies of Kings, the 
Angels, and other figures, on the upper stages of the building, 
while the ' Church Triumphant ' up above on the southern 
transept fa9ade is every whit as delicately beautiful as the 
' Mary of the Visitation, ' in the western porch. 

Enough has been said to show that on this subject literary 
statements are not to be trusted and practice is very uncertain. 
It remains to be seen what light can be thrown upon it, first, 
from the side of aesthetic principle; and, second, from that 
of the actual procedure and expert judgement of sculptors of 

The principle will hardly be controverted that anything 
abnormal, either in the proportions of a figure or even in its 
treatment, will tend to defeat its own object by confusing our 
regular and highly effective visual process. The organs which 
co-operate in this are so educated that we interpret by an 
unconscious act of intelligence what we actually see, and make 
due allowance for distance and position. It is often said that 
objects look larger through a mist. This is not the case. 


They do not look larger but they look further off, and the 
equation between apparent size and apparent distance which 
we unconsciously establish is vitiated, so that the impression 
is produced that the particular object is abnormally large. 
Now in the same way we allow for the distance and the 
perspective angle at which a work of sculpture is seen and 
interpret accurately the actual forms and effects of texture and 
light and shade the image of which falls on the retina. If 
the sculptor have altered his proportions there is a danger 
that we shall derive the impression of a distorted figure, 
because we have made our allowances on the supposition that 
the proportions are normal. If he have forced the effect by 
emphasizing the modelling, he will make the parts where this 
is done appear too near the eye, and this will involve a false 
impression of the height and dimensions of the structure on 
which the sculpture is displayed. There is this forcing of 
effect in the case of the column of Marcus Aurelius, but it 
is of no artistic advantage, and would tend to make the column 
itself look lower than it really is. In the column of Trajan 
the spiral lines have a certain artistic wavyness, so that the 
band of sculpture varies in width in different parts, but the 
treatment is the same throughout, and as the reliefs were not 
only to be seen from below but also from the lofty neighbouring 
structures of the Trajanic Forum, this was not only in accord- 
ance with principle but with common sense. It is obvious 
indeed that works of monumental sculpture are practically 
always visible from other points than the one for which their 
effect is chiefly calculated ; and hence if proportions be modified 
so as to suit one special standpoint, the work may look right 
in this one aspect, but in all others may appear painfully 

As regards the second point, we have asked Mr. Pittendrigh 
Macgillivray, R.S.A. , a question on this subject, and he has 
kindly given us his opinion in the following note. 

' The question as to whether or not sculptors deliberately 
' alter the normal proportions of the human figure in order 
' to adapt their works to special circumstances is one which 
' is frequently asked, and which I have never found reason to 
' answer otherwise than in the negative. The rule in the 


classic examples of all periods, as far as I have observed, is 
normal proportion and execution, irrespective of site and 
circumstances, and, to anyone familiar with the art and 
practice of sculpture, the difficulties and uncertainties con- 
sequent upon a lawless method of dealing with the normal 
quantities of the figure, are a sufficient deterrent against 
vagaries in scale and proportion. To change the proportions 
of the figure in order to meet the peculiarities and limitations 
of some special site, seems on the surface so reasonable that 
one is not greatly surprised at the persistence of the idea in 
literary circles, where it has not been possible to balance it 
against that technical knowledge which is the outcome of 
actual practice and experience in handling the mdtier of the 
art. To adapt statuary by fanciful proportions to unfortunate 
conditions and circumstances, for which truer artistic taste 
and understanding, on the part of architects, would never 
propose it, seems such a 'cute notion that it has occasionally 
attracted the clever ones of the profession as a way out of the 
difficulty, but one which has led only to ultimate discom- 
' The fact is, I imagine, that the normal proportions of the 
human figure are so deeply printed on the inherited memory 
of the race that, except within very narrow limitations, they 
cannot be modified and yet at the same time convey lastingly 
any high order of serious emotion or effect. The great men 
doing serious work in sculpture will never find it necessary to 
go beyond the law of nature for the architectonic basis of 
their expression. Faulty or arbitrary proportion in handling 
'the human figure is unnecessary; it is of no real help to the 
artist, and no more desired by him than is the liberty of 
1 6 lines and ballad measure, by the sonneteer expert in the 
Petrarchan form and rhyme of 14 pentameter verses. The 
real matter to be dealt with in respect of peculiarities of site 
and circumstances lies within the sphere of the artistic 
capacity, and is at once more easy and more difficult than any 
wooden process of mis-handling the proportions of the figure. 
It is at issue in the legend of the Byzantine writer, Tzetzes, 
to which reference is made, wherein it is said that Pheidias 
and Alcamenes competed on one occasion with rival figures of 


Athene, but the explanation given of the reason why the work 
of Pheidias was admired and preferred at the site, is, I 
venture to say, the wrong one, in as far as it presupposes 
abnormal proportions in the successful statue. To the 
author's mind, no doubt, something profound and abstruse 
was necessary in order to explain such a triumph, and the 
idea that Pheidias was deeply versed in what must then have 
been the occult mysteries of optics and geometry, fitted the 
need and was pleasant to the love of the marvellous. 

' In such a case, Pheidias would certainly, with the intuitive 
artistic sense and experience of a master, handle the style, 
composition, lights and shadows, mass, line and silhouette of 
his work in relation to its size, and the average height and 
distance from which ft was to be viewed. It might be 
finished highly in respect of surface, or left moderately rough, 
a condition of little consequence compared with the factors 
enumerated above. It would be made readable and expres- 
sive, but there would be no modification of the sacred 
proportions of the figure; no trace of allowance in order 
that " the upper part which is further off from the eye should 
appear to be in proportion when compared with the lower, 
which is nearer." That artists should appear to give up 
natural truth in their images for considerations of abstract 
beauty, was grateful to the mind of Plato, but is only another 
proof of the soaring qualities of the White Horse in the 
Human Chariot ! 

' Outside of a somewhat conscious effort towards the 
decorative in form and towards the effective articulation of 
parts, I find little in the work of Donatello to justify his being 
specially singled out as illustrating those principles of the 
modification of true proportions for sculpture in relation to 
the exigencies of site. The statues on the Campanile need 
not, I imagine, be taken too seriously as exhibitions of 
Donatello's most careful judgement. Compared with such 
works of his as we may feel at liberty to believe personal, 
they are rude and ill-considered in design and execution. 
There is in the bones, mass, and arrangement of the work 
very probably something of Donatello, but in the detail and 
execution there is little or nothing of the hand that did the 


' Christ of S. Antonio of Padua, the bronze David of the 
' Bargello, or the bust of Niccolo da Uzzano. ' 


[§ 43, Polychrome Wax Effigies, ante, p. 149.] 

Wax has been used from the time of the ancients as a 
modelling material, both in connection with casting in bronze, 
and with the making of small studies for reproduction in more 
permanent materials. The production of a plastic work in wax 
intended to remain as the finished expression of the artist's idea 
is of course a different matter. Among the Greeks, Lvsistrato s, 
the brother of Lysippos, about the time of Alexander the 
Great, introduced the practice of taking plaster moulds from 
the life, and then makin g- casts from them in wax . These he 
may have coloure d, for the use of colour, at any rate on terra 
cotta, was at the time universal, and in this way have produced 
waxen effigies. (Hominis autem imaginem gypso e facie ipsa 
primus omnium expressit ceraque in earn formam gypsi infusa 
emendare instituit Lysistratus Sicyonius frater Lysippi. Plin. 
Hist. Nat., XXXV, 153). Rusts in nnlnnre d wax of departed 
ancestors were kep t by the Romans of position in the atria of 
their_iiQuses, and the f unereal u se of thp ^av pfflgy pan -,hp 
' f ollowed from. cJassicaI-.times,-_tQ_thnsp cnmparativply p^nfipm, 
for in Westminster Abbey can sHIl he sppn the wavpq pffigipg 
of Queen Elizabeth, Charles II, and other sovereigns and 
nobles of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These, like 
the modern wax-works of popular exhibitions, are hardly pro- 
ductions of art. What Vasari writes of is a highly refined and 
artistic kind of work, that was practised in Italy f rom the 
early— Bart _ of th e sixteenth century, and .sBr ead to Franc e, 
Ggrmany, and England in each of which co untries there were 
welWcnmrn^executant^ m^ "the seventeenflir or eighteenth 
ceqturies. TbS— Connoisseur jof_March, 1904, contained an 
articl p . n n thp chi ef of these. ~ _— __^ 

Though modelled effigies in wax of a thoroughly artistic kind 
were executed of or near the size of life and in the round, as 
may be seen in the Italian waxen bust of a girl in the Musde 
Wicar at Lille, that has been ascribed to Raphael, yet as a 


rule the execution was in miniature and in relief. Specimens 
of this form of the work are to be seen in the British Museum, 
in the Wallace Collection, and at South Kensington. 

In the Proceedings of the Huguenot Society of London, m, 
4, there is an article on the Cossets, a Huguenot family, some 
members of which practised the art in England from the early 
part of the eighteenth century, and a recipe for colouring th e 
wax is there quoted which it may be interesting to compare 
with "that given by Vasari. ' To two ounces of flake white (the 
biacca of Vasari) add three of Venice turpentine, if it be in 
summer, and four in winter, with sufficient vermilion 
(cinabrio) to give it a pinkish tint. Grind these together on a 
stone with a muller ; then put them into a pound of fine white 
wax, such as is used for making candies : this is molten ready 
in an earthen pipkin. Turn them round over the fire for some 
time. When thoroughly mixed the composition should be 
immediately removed and poured into dishes previously wetted 
to prevent the wax from sticking to them.' 

This refers to the preparation of a self-coloured wax which 
may be prepared of a flesh tint, or of a creamy white, or of 
any other desired hue like those Vasari enumerates. The 
portraits in wax referred to in our museums are sometimes in 
self-coloured material of this kind, but at other times are 
coloured polychromatically in all their details. This is the 
technique referred to by Vasari in § 43 as having been intro- 
duced by certain ' modern masters. ' In Opere, iv, 436 he refers 
to one Pastorino of Siena as having acquired great celebrity 
for wax portraits, and as having ' invented a composition which 
is capable of reproducing the hair, beard and skin, in the most 
natural manner./ It would take me too long ' he continues ' to 
enumerate all the artists who m odel wax portrai ts, for now-a- 
days there is scarcely a jeweller who does not occupy hims elf 
with such work .' This last remark is significant, for one 
feature of these polychro m e medallions is the introd iiptinn of 
real stones, seed pearls, gold rin g s, and the I'k^j '" f'f>nnpptinp 
with the modelled wax, so that collectors used to style the work s 
' Italian—sixteea-th— eeBfairy jpwp.llpri wax^a,' A portrait bust 
in the Salting collection, shown on loan at South Kensington, 
representing Elizabeth of France, wife of Philip II, is a good 


specimen of the technique. The lady wears a jewelled hair net 
set with real red and green stones, and a necklet of seed pearls. 
In her ear is a ring of thin gold wire. The flesh parts are 
naturally coloured, the hair is auburn, the bodice black, and 
there are two white feathers in the headdress. We should 
gather from Vasari's words in § 43 that works of the kind 
were built up of waxes variously coloured in the mass, and a 
close examination of extant specimens clearly shows that this 
was the case. Local tints such as the red of the lips, etc., 
were added with pigment. 

The best modern notice of wax modelling in these forms is 
that contained in Propert's History of Miniature Art, Lond. 
1887, chapter xii, but little is said there of the technique. It 
should be noticed that the medallion in coloured wax as a form 
of art has been revived with considerable success in our own 
time and country by the Misses Casella and others. The artists 
just named consider that it would be impossible to finish work 
on the usual small scale in coloured waxes alone, without 
touches of pigment added with the brush. It would be interest- 
ing in this connection to know what were the exact processes 
of painting in wax used by the ancients. Paintings, which 
must have been on a small scale because they were on a ground 
of ivory, were executed in coloured waxes laid on by the 
' cestrum ' (Pliny, Hist. Nat., xxxv, 147), which is usually 
described as a sort of spatula, something like one of the steel 
tools used by artists for finishing figures in plaster. However 
the substance was applied, the whole process was apparently 
carried out in the coloured waxes. There must have been 
some similarity between this technique and that of the wax 
medallions of Renaissance and modern times. 


[§ 48, Transference of the full-sized Model to the Marble Block, 
ante, p. 151.] 

' To enlarge the figure proportionately in the marble. ' 
Vasari has said, ante, p. 150, that the mode l is to be the f ull size 
of the marble so that there would be no question of enlargement 
but only of accurately copying the form of the model in the new 


material. For this mechanical aids are invoked, the latest and 
most elaborate of which is the ' pointing machine ' now in 
common use. The appliances in Vasari's time were much 
simpler. Cellini, in his Trattato sopra la Scultura, describes 
the mechanical arrangements he made for enlarging a model 
to the size of a proposed colossal effigy, and the principle is the 
same whether there is to be enlargement or exact reproduction. 

The model, and a block r nnghly trimmpd hy mlp r>f f^hjinih 

t o the size and shape requirecl. but of course somewb gt larg-pr 
tl^an will .ultimately l^e neRrieri. are placed side hy side on table s 
o f exactly the same form and dimensions. A bout the model 
i s set up a sort of frame work simple or elaborate,- according to 
the character of the piece, and a framework precisely similar in 
all respe c ts is disposed about the block . A measurement is 
t hen taken from one or more points on the framework tr> a 
point on the model, and from a point or points similarly situated 
on the other framework, and in the same relative direction, a 
similar measurement is led towards the block. As this is ex 
hypothesi a little larger than the model, the full measurement 
cannot be taken until some of the superfluous marble has been 
removed by suitable tools. When this is done a point can be 
established on the block exactly corresponding to the point 
already fixed on the model. This process can be repeated as 
often as is necessary until all the important or salient points 
on the model have been successively established on the marble 
block, which will ultimately have approached so nearly to the 
exact similitude of the model, that the artist can finish it by the 

The nature of what has been termed the framework, from 
which all the measurements are taken, may vary. Cellini, on 
the occasion referred to, surrounded his model with a sort of 
skeleton of a cubical box, from the sides and corners of which 
he measured. In the Encyclopddie of Diderot and d'Alembert, 
of the middle of the eighteenth century, similar square frames, 
like those used as stretchers for canvases, are suspended hori- 
zontally over model and block, and plumb lines are hung from 
the corners, so that skeleton cubes are established, which would 
answer the same purpose as Cellini's box. See Plate X, a. The 
arrangement contemplated by Vasari was somewhat simpler. 


He does not establish a complete hollow cube about his model 
and his block, but is apparently satisfied with erecting perpen- 
diculars beside each, from which the measures would be led. 
The carpenter's square (squadra) he has in mind consists of 
two straight legs joined together at right angles. If one leg 
be laid horizontally along the table the one at right angles to it 
will be vertical, and from this the measurements are taken. In 
the treatise on Sculpture by Leon Battista Alberti there is an 
elaborate description of a device he invented for the purpose in 
view, and one of his editors has illustrated this by a drawing 
reproduced here in Plate X, b. The device explains itself, and 
any number of similar contrivances could be employed. 


[§ 49, Danger of Dispensing with the Full-sized Model, 
ante, p. 151.] 

The question here is of the possibility of dispensing 
altogether with a full-sized clay model, and proceeding at once 
to attack the marble with the guidance only of the small 
original sketch. In modern times this is practically never 
done, but it was the universal practice of the Greek sculptors 
at any rate down to the later periods of Hellenic art. These 
remarks of Vasari come just at the time of the change from the 
ancient to the modern technique, for we shall see that Donatello 
in the fifteenth century worked according to the simpler ancient 
method, while Michelangelo in the sixteenth after beginning 
in the same fashion finally settled down to the use of the full 
model, which has ever since remained de rigeur. 

The technique of the Greeks furnished the subject for an 
article by Professor Ernest Gardner in the 14th volume of the 
Journal of Hellenic Studies. He shows there by a comparison 
of unfinished works that the Greek sculptors attacked the 
marble directly, and proceeded apparently on the following 
method. Having obtained a block about the size and shape 
required they set it up before them as if in a front view, and 
then hewed away at the two sides till they had brought the 
contour of these to the exact lines required for the finished 
work. They then passed round through a right angle to the 



side, and treated in a similar fashion the front and back of the 
block, bringing these to the shape of the front and back of the 
desired figure. The block would then, when looked at from 

Fig. II. — Two views of unfinished Greek marble statue blocked out on the ancient system. 
In quarries on Mount Pentelicus, Athens. 

the front or back or from the sides, present the required 
outlines, but the section of it would still be square in every 
part — there would be no rounding off. The sketches. Fig. 11, 
show two views of a figure blocked out in this fashion by an 
ancient Attic sculptor. It was found in old marble workings 



on Mount Pentelicus, and is preserved at the modern marble 
quarry at the back of that mountain. We owe the use of the 
photographs employed to the courtesy of M. Georges Nicole, of 
Geneva. They were published in the volume entitled Mdlanges 
Nicole, Geneva, 1905, in connection with an article on the 
figure by the archaeologist just named. The next process was 
to cut away these corners and with the guidance of the already 
established contours gradually bring the whole into the required 
shape. A small model may in every case be presupposed and 
there must have been some system of measurement. Indeed on 
some antiques, as on a crouching Venus in the gallery leading 
to the Venus of Milo in the Louvre, there are still to be seen 
the knobs (puntelli) to which measurements were taken during 
the progress of the work. Of the use of full-sized clay models 
there is in Greece no evidence at all, until the late period of the 
first century B.C., when we are told of Pasiteles, a very pains- 
taking sculptor of a decadent epoch, that he never executed a 
work without first modelling it (nihil unquam fecit antequam 
finxit). This no doubt implies a full-sized model in clay, for 
a small sketch would not be mentioned as it is a matter of 

The practice of the Italians is described by Cellini in words 
which are important enough to quote. They are from the 
fourth chapter of his treatise on Sculpture. ' Now although 
many excellent masters of assured technique have boldly 
attacked the marble with their tools, as soon as they had 
carved the little model to completion, yet at the end they have 
found themselves but little satisfied with their work. For, to 
speak only of the best of the moderns, Donatello adopted this 
method in his works; and another example is Michelangelo, 
who had experience of both the methods, that is to say, of 
carving statues alike from the small model and the big, and at 
the end, convinced of their respective advantages and dis- 
advantages, adopted the second method (of the full-sized 
model). And this I saw myself at Florence when he was 
working in the sacristy of S. Lorenzo (on the Medici tombs).' 
As regards Michelangelo's early practice, Vasari records in his 
Life that he carved the colossal marble ' David ' with the sole 
aid of a small wax model, according to Vasari one of those 


now preserved in the Casa Buonarroti at Florence. This was 
in 1504. The Medici tombs date twenty years later. 

In connection with the direct practice of Donatello, it is 
worth while referring to some words of Francesco Bocchi, a 
rhetorical eulogist of the arts and artists of his native Florence, 
who wrote in 1571 a literary effusion on the sculptor's St. 
George. He notes in his introduction that Donatello was 
accustomed to compose his marble figures compactly and to 
avoid projecting hands and arms, while for his effigies in bronze 
he used much greater freedom in action. The difference is 
really one of material, and Donatello's practice of working 
directly on the marble would necessarily involve this restraint 
in composition. Ajiyone_accustomed to deal with marble blocks_ 
asveWcle§_j3f-_artislic__expression,_wouId avoid unne cessarx 
projections as these cause great waste of material and expen di- 
ture "ofTime. WKenTpIastefing clay or wax on a flexible 
armature tEis "consideration is not present, and modelled figures 
will naturally be freer in action than carved ones. As will 
presently be seen, certain marked differences in the treatment 
of relief sculpture depend on these same considerations of 
material and technique. 

In direct work on the marble there is of course always the 
danger of the sort of miscalculation that Vasari goes on to 
notice. Greek figures sometimes show variations from correct 
proportions, for example, the left thigh of the Venus of Milo 
is too short, but the errors are not such as to destroy the effect 
of the works. Greek work in marble shows a marvellously 
intimate knowledge on the part of the carver of his material 
as well as a clear conception of what he was aiming at. Even 
Michelangelo yields in this respect to the ancients, for though 
no o:''e was ever more thoroughly a master of the carver's 
technique, he made serious mistakes in calculating proportions, 
as in the ' Slave ' of the Louvre, where he has not left enough 
marble for the leg of the figure. Moderns generally have not 
the ease which tradition and practice gave to the Greek 
sculptors, and the full-sized model is now a necessary pre- 


[§ 52, Pictorial or Perspective Reliefs, ante, p. 154.] 

Vasari ascribes comprehensively to the ' ancients ' the 
invention of the pictorial or g erspectively treated reli ef, which 
was not in use in mediaeval times, but came into vogue in the 
early years of the fifteenth century. Thp first rnnspirnnn-; 
instance of its employment was in the models by Ghiberti f or 
the second set of gates for the Ba ptistry at Florence begun in 
1425, but as these gates were not finally completed till 1452, 
other artists had in the meantime produced works in the same 
style. D onatello's bronze relief of the behea ding of John. the 
Baptis t, on the font at Siennaj _was_cpmpleted in 1427 and shows 
th e same treatment in a modified form . It is a treatment often 
called pictorial as it aims at effects of dista nce, with receding 
planes and objects made smaller according to their supposed 
distance from the foreground. The style has been sufficiently 
criticized, and it is generally agreed that it represents a defiance 
of the barriers fixed by the nature of things between painting and 
sculpture. It depende d mainly however not on the influence of 
painting but on the study of perspective, which Brune lleschi 
brought into vogue som ew here about the year 1420. Brunel- 
leschi's perspectives, or those which he inspired, were worked 
out in inlaid wood s, or tarsia work, see postea, p. 303 f., and 
exhibited elaborate architectural compositions crowded with 
receding lines. Th ese compositions wprp. adnptprl hy Donate llo 
a nd others for the backgrounds of their figure reliefs, and 
Ghibertifilled his nearer planes wit h a crowd of figures repre- 
se nted as Vasari desc ribfiS- a ccording tO- the laws of lin ear^nd 
so far as the material permitted, of aerial perspective. 

The question of the arnount of warrant for this in antique 
practice as a whole calls attention to an interesting moment 
in the general history of relief sculpture. This has been dealt 
with recently by Franz Wickhoff, in the Essay contributed by 
him to the publication of the Vienna ' Genesis,' and issued in an 
English translation by Mrs Strong under the title Roman Art 
(London, 1900), and also in Mrs Strong's own Roman Sculp- 
ture (London, Duckworth, 1907). The tendency to multiply 


planes in relief, and to introduce the perspective effects and the 
backgrounds of a picture, shows itself in some of the late Greek 
or ' Hellenistic ' reliefs, published by Schreiber under the title 
Die Hellenistischen Reliefbilder (Wien, 1889 etc.), and more 
especially in the smaller frieze from the altar base at Pergamon. 
Etruscan relief sculpture is also affected by it. It is however 
in Roman work of the early i mperial pe riod that we actually 
find the antique prototypes for the kind of work that Vasari 
has in his mind. The reliefs on the tomb of the Julii at St 
R^my, of the age of Augustus, those on the ^Ar£J]^j3£JEitus, 
and most conspicuously the decorative sculpture connected 
with the name of Trajan, are instances in point. They show 
H ifffirences in plane, and occasionally a distinct effort af ter 
perspective effe cts, and it is possible that the study of some 
of these Roman examples by Brunelleschi and Donatello at 
the opening of the fifteenth century may have contributed to 
the formation of the picturesque tradition in Florentine relief 
sculpture of the period. This style was however by no means 
universal in Roman work^ The carved sarcophagi are not 
much influenced by it, and these sarcophagi are of special 
importance in the later history of sculpture, in that they were 
the models used by Nicola Pisano and the other French and 
Italian sculptors of the so-called ' proto-Renaissance ' of the 
twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In relation to antique sculp- 
ture as a whole the pictorial style is quite abnormal. The 
genius of the classical Greek relief is indeed totally opposed 
to that of the Italian reliefs represented centrally by those of 

Ghiberti. The d ifference i ~f11nf^ampn^■ally nnp nf matprial jpH 

technique . I t is the same distinction that was drawn bv 
Michelangelo in his letter to Benedetto- Varchi, and noticed 
already in the Note on ' The Nature of Sculpture,' ante, p. 179, 
the distinction, that is, between sculpture that proceeds by 
ad ditions , ' per via di porre,' and that which advances by t aking 
material awavj ' per forza di levare. ' The normal Italian relie f 
was in cast bronze and was necessa rily modelled work. "The 
cl assical relief was in marble and was essentially carved work, 
f or the diversifying of a flat surface. "When the "Gl-eek Irelief 
was in baked clay it was generally stamped from moulds and 
not modelled up by hand. The cast bronze relief in classical 


Greece may be said only to have existed in the form of small 
plaques for the decoration of vases or other objects in metal. 
The normal bronze relief in the ancient world was beaten up 
in sheet metal by the repouss6 process. 

In the case alike of the relief carved on the marble slab, or 
stamped in clay from moulds, or beaten up in the sheet of 
metal, the nature of the technique renders flatness of effect 
almost obligatory. ' The Greek decorative relief cut ' per forza 
di levare ' in a smooth marble slab, that is most often one of 
the constructive stones of an edifice, naturally sacrifices as little 
of the material as is possible, and in all Greek reliefs, whether 
low or high, as much as possible of the work is kept to the 
foremost plane, the original surface of the stone. Again, a 
mould that is undercut, or at all deeply recessed, cannot be 
used for stamping clay, while the difficulty of relief work in 
sheet metal is greatly increased in proportion to the amount of 
salience of the forms. Hence the general flatness of the 
antique relief, observable even on the late Roman sarcophagi 
which served as models at the first revival of Italian sculpture. 
Whether the field of the relief is open or crowded, the objects 
all come together to the front. 

How different are the conditions when the rehef is modelled 
up by hand in clay or wax ! Herejhe^tarting point is the 
l?ackgro und, not_^s^Jn jhe carved relief the for eground, and 
the forms, worked ' per^daTdTporre,' can belriaHeto stand out 
against this with an ease and effectiveness which tempt the 
modeller to try all sorts of varieties of relief in the same 
composition or the same figure, and to multiply planes of 
distance till the objects on the foremost plane are starting out 
clear of the ground. There is direct evidence (see ante, p. 194) 
that in the first century b.c. the use of clay modelling as a 
preliminary process in sculpture was greatly extended, and 
Roman pictorial reliefs may themselves have been influenced 
from this side. There is no question at any rate that the Italians 
of the Renaissance surrendered themselves without hesitation 
to the fascination of this kind of work, and the style of it 
dommates their later reliefs. The contrast in this respect 
between Ghiberti's second, or Old Testament, Gates, and his 
earlier ones which adhered to the simpler style of Andrea 


Pisano's reliefs on the first of the three Baptistry Gates, is 
most instructive. Andrea's reliefs are in character mediaeval, 
and the nearest parallel to them are the storied quatrefoils on 
the basement of the westem-port als at Amien s. It J ,s worthy 
of notice how classic al these are in style, a nd this Js_due. to 
tKF^ lact~tiiat lilce G reek relief s,^ _such_as_jth£_frieze_.iif-_the. 
Partheno n, they wer e_cut_in the eonstructive^^tones of the_ 
edificeJi!Lji%.-ajid . ayrejn. A™iL.stQa£jsdiaiaii£i, 

This contrast ofGreek^n^JtaHarLOslMs ii^^ 
con^icuous object lesson on the importance of mat prial and 
technique m conditionmg artistic practice . As was pointed out 
in the Introductory Essay, these considerations have not in the 
past been sufficiently emphasized in the scheme of education 
in design recognized in our Schools of Art, though in several 
quarters now there is a promise of better things. 

[§§ 55-69. ante, p. 158 ff.] 
Vasari's account of the processes attendant on casting in 
bronze is intelligible and interesting, though he had himself 
little practical acquaintance with the craft. Benvenuto Cellini 
on the other hand was an expert bronze founder and the 
account he gives of the necessary operations in the first three 
chapters of his treatise on Sculpture is extremely graphic and 
detailed, and may be usefully employed to amplify and explain 
Vasari's notice. An expert knowledge of the founder's craft 
was not by any means universal among the Italian sculptors 
of the Renaissance. Donatello did not possess i t,_ nor did 
Michelangelo. In the case of the former this is somewhat 
remarkable, for Donatello was such a vigorous craftsman that 
we should have expected to find him revelling in all the 
technical minutiae of the foundry. We are expressly told 
however by Pomponius Gauricus that Donatello lacked this 
knowledge, and never cast his own works but always relied 
on the help of bell founders (Hans Semper, Donatello, 
Wien, 1875, P- 317)- Midhelozzo_on_tiie_other hand, wjho^ 
worked^ jyith Dnn aldlo^ould c ast, and so could"^hibert i~ A. 
Pollai uolo, and Verr^cElQ,_wErie Alessandro" Leopardi of 


Venice, who cast Verrocchio's CoUeoni statue, was famed for 
his practical skill in this department. It was customary, when 
expert help in casting was required, to enlist the services of 
bell founders and makers of cannon, but Cellini warns sculptors 
against trusting too much to these mere mechanicians who 
lacked ingenuity and resource. 

The following general sketch of the processes of casting will 
render Vasari's account more easy to follow. A successful 
cast in bronze consists in a thin shell of the met al, representing 
on the e xterior the exact form of the m ode l, or the complete 
desi gn in the artisi-'g mind. The best way to procure this is to 
[•^ provide first a similar shell , perfect on its exterior surface, of 
wax, and then to melt a wpy ^^^ ^'^""^ ""d replace it bv molten 
b ronz e. For this to be possible the shell of wax must be 
closely sealed between an outer envelope and an inner packing 
or core. It can then be got rid of by melting, but care must 
have been taken lest the core when it loses the support of the 
wax should shift its position in relation to the envelope. To 
prevent this, metal rods are run, skewer-fashion, through core 
and envelope to retain them firmly in their relative positions. 
Molten bronze may then be introduced into the space formerly 
occupied by the wax, and this, when it is cold, and the 
envelope and core are both removed, will be the cast required. 

Attention has to be paid to secure that there shall be no 
mnistiirp and np remnant nf wax in the, parts where the molten 
bronze is to come , ot herwise steam may he generated and a 
d angerous explosion follo w. Similarly, ^r holes or vents must 
b e provided, so that the air may escape before the flowin g 
metal. The cast when cold should, theoretically, give a perfect 
result, but as a matter of fact, unless very accomplished skill 
or great good fortune have presided over the operations, the 
metal will be blistered or seamed or flawed in parts, and these 
imperfections will have to be remedied by processes which 
come under the head of chasing, and are described by Vasari 
at the close of the chapter. 

A direct and ingenious method of procuring the needful shell 
of wax is that described by Vasari in § 67 as suitable for 
small figures and reliefs. Over the model for such a small 
figure an envelope is formed, in the shape of a hollow mould 


of fire-resisting material, so constructed that it can be taken to 
pieces, the model extracted, and the mould closed up again. 
The mould must now be cooled with cold water and it is then 
filled with melted wax. Contact with the cold sides of the 
mould chills the wax, which hardens all over in a sort of crust 
or skin. The rest of the wax, still liquid, is then poured out 
and the skin or crust suffered to harden. The interior is then 
filled with clay of a kind that will stand heat. Rods or skewers 
are passed through this and the envelope, the wax is melted 
out and its place taken by the molten bronze. 

This process, one of course only suitable for small objects, 
presupposes the existence of a completely finished model to be 
exactly reproduced in the metal. The simplest of all processes 
of bronze casting dispenses with this model. Vasari does not 
describe this simplest method but Cellini, who employed it both 
for his ' Nymph of Fontainebleau ' and his ' Perseus,' gives an 
account of it which is worth summarizing because the process 
is probably the one adopted in most cases by the old Greek 

Cellini tells us that in making his large lunette-shaped relief 
of the ' Nymph of Fontainebleau, ' now in the Louvre, he began 
by modelling up the piece in fire-resisting clay, of course over 
a proper armature or skeleton. He worked it out to full size 
and then let it dry till it had shrunk about a finger's breadth. 
He then covered it with a coating of wax of rather less than 
this thickness, which he modelled with the utmost care, finishing 
it in every detail so that it expressed to the full his own idea 
for the finished work. This was then carefully covered in 
successive layers with an envelope of fire-resisting material, 
which would be properly tied by transverse rods to the core, 
and braced on the exterior by an armature. The wax was then 
melted out, and the core and envelope thoroughly dried, when 
the molten bronze was poured in so as to reproduce the wax in 
every detail. 

It is obvious that this is not only the most direct but the 
most artistic method of work. The wax forms a complete 
unbroken surface and receives and retains the exact impression 
in every detail of the master's hand. If the cast be thoroughly 
successful, the bronze will reproduce the surface of the wax so 


perfectly that no further work upon it will be needed, and an 
' untouched cast ' will be the result. This method would suit 
the genius of the Greeks, and was no doubt commonly employed 
by them, but it has the practical drawback that if anything 
go wrong, and the bronze do not flow properly, the whole work 
is spoilt, and will have to be built up again de novo from the 
small study. Cellini tells us that his ' Perseus,' which he was 
casting in this fashion, nearly came to grief from the cause 
just indicated, and he accordingly recommends what he calls 
the second method, a longer and less direct process, which has 
however the advantage that a full-sized completed model is all 
the time preserved. 

This process is the one described by Vasari. A full-sized 
clay model is prepared and finished, and this is then covered 
with a plaster envelope made in numerous sections, so that it 
can be taken to pieces and put together again without the 
model, which may be preserved for further use. The next 
step is to line the inside of the empty envelope, or piece-mould, 
as it is called, with wax, and to fill up all the rest of the interior 
with a core. The piece-mould is then removed, and the surface 
of the wax is carefully gone over to secure that it shall be 
perfect in every part. Over it is then laid in successive coats 
a fire-resisting envelope between which and the core the wax 
is hermetically sealed. The wax can then be melted out and 
replaced with bronze. The piece-mould, which has been 
detached section by section from the wax, will serve again 
for other reproductions. The processes in which wax is 
employed are called cire perdue processes, because the wax is 
got rid of in order to be replaced by the metal. The usual 
process in vogue at the present day dispenses with any employ- 
ment of wax. The figure to be cast is piece-moulded and 
reproduced in a suitable material, a certain thickness of which 
is in every part pared away according to the thickness required 
for the bronze. This core is then replaced with proper adjust- 
ments within a fireproof mould, and the bronze is poured into 
the space prepared for it. 




What Design is, and how, good Pictures are made and known, and 
concerning the invention of Compositions. 

§ 74. The Nature and Materials of Design or Drawing.^ 

Seeing that Design, the parent of our three arts, Archi- 
tecture, Sculpture, and Painting, having its origin in the 
intellect, draws out from many single things a general 
judgement, it is like a form or idea of all the objects in 
nature, most marvellous in what it compasses, for not__ 
only in the bodies of men and of animals but also in 
plants, in buildings, in sculpture and in painting, design 
is cognizant of the proportion of the whole to the parts and 
of ,the parts to each other and to the whole. Seeing too 
that from this knowledge there arises a certain conception 
and judgement, so that there is formed in the mind that 
something which afterwards, when expressed by the 
hands, is called design, we may conclude that design is not 
other than a visible expression and declaration of our inn er 
conceptio n and of that which others have imagined and 
given form to in their idea. And from this, perhaps, 
arose the proverb among the ancients ' ex ungue leonem ' 
when a certain clever person, seeing carved in a stone 
block the claw only of a lion, apprehended in his mind 

^ The first two sections, § § 74, 75, of this chapter were added by Vasari 
in the second edidon. They contain his contribution to the philosophy of 
the graphic art. It will be noted that his word ' Disegno ' corresponds 
alike to our more general word ' design ' and the more special term 
' drawing.' 


from its size and form all the parts of the animal and 
then the whole together, just as if he had had it present 
before his eyes. Some believe that accident was the father 
of design and of the arts, and that use and experience as 
foster-mother and schoolmaster, nourished it with the help 
of knowledge and of reasoning, but I think that, with 
more truth, accident may be said rather to have given 
the occasion for design, than to be its father. 

But let this be as it may, what design needs, when it 
has derived from the judgement the mental image of 
anything, is that the hand, through the study and practice 
of many years, may be free and apt to draw and to express 
correctly, with the pen, the silver-point, the charcoal, the 
chalk, or other instrument, whatever nature has created. 
For when the intellect puts forth refined and judicious 
conceptions, the hand which has practised design for 
many years, exhibits the perfection and excellence of the 
arts as well as the knowledge of the artist. And seeing 
that there are certain sculptors who have not much practice 
in strokes and outlines, and consequently cannot draw 
on paper, these work instead in clay or wax, fashioning 
men, animals, and other things in relief, with beautiful 
proportion and balance. Thus they effect the same thing 
as does he who draws well on paper or other flat surface. 

The masters who practise these arts have named or 
distinguished the various kinds of design according to 
the description of the drawing which they make. Those 
whirh arp tniirhp d lightly and just indicated with the p en 
or other instrument are called sketches , as shall be 
explained in another place. Those, again, that have the 
first lines encircling an object are called profiles or o ut- 

§ 75. Use of Design (or Drawing) in the Various Arts. 

All these, whether we call them profiles or otherwise, 
are as useful to architecture and sculpture as to painting. 
Their c hief use indeed is in Architect ure , because jts 
designs are composed o nly of lines, which so far as the 


architect is concerned, are nothing else than the beginning 
and the end of his art, for all the rest , which is carried 
out with the aid of models of wood formed from the said 
lines, '". merely the work of carvers and masons .^ 

In Sculpture, drawing is of service in the case of all the 
profiles, because in going round from view to view the 
sculptor uses it when he wishes to delineate the forms 
which please him best, or which he intends to bring out 
in every dimension, whether in wax, or clay, or marble, 
or wood, or other material. 

In Pain ting, the lines are of service in many ways, but 
especially in o utlining every figure, because when they 
a re wel l drawn, and made correct and in proportion, the 
shadows and lights that are then added give the strongest 
relief to the lines of the figure and the result is all 
excellence and perfection. Hence it happens, that whoever 
understands and manages these lines well, will, with the 
help of practice and judgement, excel in each one of these 
arts. Therefore, he who would learn thoroughly to 
express in drawing the conceptions of the mind and any- 
thing else that pleases him, must after he has in some 
degree trained his hand to make it more skilful in the arts, 
exercise it in copying figures in relief either in marble 
or stone, or else plaster casts taken from the life, yor from 

* This remark of Vasari is significant of the change in architectural practice 
between the mediaeval and modern epochs. That the architect is a man that 
sits at home and makes drawings, while practical craftsmen carry them out, 
is to us a familiar idea, but the notion would greatly have astonished the 
builders of the French Gothic cathedrals or the Florentines of the fourteenth 
century. In mediaeval practice the architect was the master of the work, 
c arrying the "sL lieiiie Ol tlie whole in liia h e ad, •but b usy all the time" with the 
ac tual materials and tools, and directing progress rather from the scaffoldin g 
t han from the drawin g oHice! On the tombstone ' of the French architect of 
the thirteenth century, Hughes Libergier, at Reims, he is shown with the 
mason's square, rule, and compasses about him ; while in the relief that 
illustrates 'Building' on Giotto's Campanile at Florence we see the master 
mason directing the operations of the journeymen from a position on the 
structure itself. In the present day there is a strong feeling in the profession 
that this separation of architect and craftsman, which dates from the later 
Renaissance, is a bad thing for art, and that the designer should be in more 
intimate touch with the materials and processes of building. 


some beautiful antique statue, or even from models in 
relief of clay, which may either be nude or clad in rags 
covered with clay to serve for clothing and drapery. All 
these objects being mj^innlpss anH withQiif feeling, greatly 
fa cilitate the work of the artist, because they stand still , 
which does not happen in the case of live things that have 
movement. W hen he has trained his hand by stea dy 
p ractice in drawing sn rh objects, let him begin t o copy 
fro m nature and make a good and certa in practice herein , 
with all possible labour and diligence, for the things 
studied from nature are really/those which do honour to 
him who strives to master them, since they have in them- 
selves, besides a certain grace and liveliness, that simple 
and easy sweetness which is nature's own, and which 
can only be learned perfectly from her, and never to a 
sufficient degree from the things of art. Hold it more- 
over for certain, that the practice that is acquired by 
many years of study in drawing, as has been said above, 
is the true light of design and that which makes men 
really proficient. Now, having discoursed long enough 
on this subject let us go on to see what painting is. 

§ 76. Of the Nature of Painting. 

A painting, then, is a plane covered with patches o f 
c olour on the surface- nf wood, wall, or canvas filling up 
the outlines spoken of above, which, by virtue of a good 
design of encompassing lines, surround the figure.^ If 

^ It is characteristically Florentine to regard painting as essentially the filling 
up of outlines, and to colour in staccato fashion with an assorted set of tints 
arranged in gradation. To the eye of the born painter outlines do not exist 
and nature is seen in tone and colour, while colours are like the tones of a 
violin infinite in gradation, not distinct like the notes of a piano. With the 
exception of the Venetians and some other North Italians such as Correggio 
and Lotto, the Italians generally painted by filling outlines with local tints 
graded as light, middle, and dark, and the Florentines were pre-eminent in the 
emphasis they laid on the well-drawn outline as the foundation of the art. 
Since the seventeenth century the general idea of what constitutes the art of 
painting has suffered a change and Vasari's account of Florentine practice, in 
which he was himself an expert, is all the more interesting. Vasari's point 


the painter treat his flat surface with right judgement, 
keeping the ce ntre light an d the edges an d the backgroun d 
dar k and medium colour between the tight an d dark in 
t hTintermediate spaces, the result of the rnmhTnation of 
t hese three fields <7f colour will be that everyt hing between 
t he one outline and the other stands out "and appear s 
r ound and in relief ^ It is indeed true that these three 
shades cannot suffice for every object treated in detail, 
therefore it is neces sary to divide every shade at least int o 
t wo half shades , making of the light two half tints , and 
of _the dark two light er, and of the medium two other half 
tints which incline one to the lighter and the other to the 
darker side. When these tints, being of one colour only 
whatever it may be, are gradated, we see a transition 
beginning with the light, and then the less light, and then 
a little darker, so that little by little we find the pure 
blacky/tlaving then made the mixtures, that is, these 
colours mixed together, and wishing to work with oil or 
tempera or in fresco, we proceed to fill in the outlmes 
putting in their proper place the lights and darks/the 
half tints and the lowered tones of the half tints and the 
lights. I mean those tinfeS mixed from the three first, 
light, medium and dark,/which lights and medium tints 
and darks and lower tones are copied from the cartoon 
or other design which is made for any work before we 
begin to put it into execution. It is necessary that the 
design be carried out with good arrangement, firm 
drawing, and judgement and invention, seeing that the 
composition in a picture is not other than the parcelling 
out of the places where the figures come, so that the spaces 
be not unshapely but in accordance with the judgement 
of the eye, while the field is in one place well covered 
and in another void. All this is the result of drawing 

of view is that of the frescoist. In that process, which, as we shall see, had 
to be carried out swiftly and directly so as to be finished at one sitting, it 
was practically necessary to have the various tints in their gradations mixed 
and ready to hand. The whole method and genius of oil-painting, as moderns 
understand it, is different, and its processes much more varied and subtle. 



and of having copied figures from the life, or from models 
of figures made to represent anything one wishes to malce. 
Design cannot have a good origin if it have not come 
from continual practice in copying natural objects, and 
from the study of pictures by excellent masters and of 
ancient statues in relief,/ as has been said many times- 
But a bove all, the best thing is to draw men and wome n 
f rom the nude and thus fix in th e memnry by rnnstant 
e xercise the muscles of the torso, back, legs, arms, and 
kn ees, with the bones underneath. Then one may be 
sure that through much study attitudes in any positio n 
c an be drawn by help of the imagination without one's 
having the living forms in view. Again having seen 
human bodies dissected one knows how the bones lie, 
and the muscles and sinews, and all the order and con- 
ditions of anatomy, so that it is possible with greater 
security and more correctness to place the limbs and 
arrange the muscles of the body in the figures we draw/ 
And those who have this knowledge will certainly draw 
the outlines of the figures perfectly, and these, when drawn 
as they ought to be, show a pleasing grace and beautiful 

He who studies good painting and sculpture, and at 
the same time sees and understands the life, must neces- 
sarily have acquired a good method in art. Hence springs 
the invention which groups figures in fours, sixes, tens, 
twenties, in such a manner as to represent battles and 
other great subjects of art. This invention demands an 
innate propriety springing out of harmony and obedience; 
thus if a figure move to greet another, the figure saluted 
having to respond should not turn away. As with this 
example, so it is with all the rest. The subject may offer 
many varied motives different one from another, but the 
motives chosen must always bear relation to the work in 
hand, and to what the artist is in process of representing. 
He ought to distinguish between different movements and 
characteristics, making the women with a sweet and 
beautiful air and also the youths, but the old always 


grave of aspect, and especially the priests and persons in 
authority. He must always take care however, that every-; 
thing is in relation to the work as a whole; so that when 
the picture is looked at, one can recognize in it a har- 
monious unity, wherein the passions strike terror, and the 
pleasing effects shed sweetness, representing directly the 
intention of the painter, and not the things he had no 
thought of. It is requisite therefore, for this purpose, 
that he form the figures which have to be spirited with 
movement and vigour, and that he make those which 
are distant to retire from the principal figures by means 
of shade and colour that gradually and softly become lower 
in tone. Thus the art will always be associated with the 
grace of naturalness and of delicate charm of colour, and 
the work be brought to perfection not with the stress of 
cruel suffering, so that men who look at it have to endure 
pain on account of the suffering which they see has been 
borne by the artist in his work, but rather with rejoicing 
at his good fortune in that his hand has received from 
heaven the lightness of movement which shows his paint- 
ing to be worked out with study and toil certainly, but 
not with drudgery; so will it be that the figures, every 
one in its place, will not appear dead to him who observes 
them, but alive and true. Let painters avoid crudities, 
let it be their endeavour that the things they are always 
producing shall not seem painted, but show themselves 
alive and starting out of the canvas. This is the secret 
of sound design and the true method recognized by him 
who has painted as belonging to the pictures that are 
known and judged to be good. 


Of Sketches, Drawings, Cartoons, and Schemes of Perspective ; how 
they are made, and to what use they are put by the Painters. 

§ 77. Sketches, Drawings, and Cartoons of different 

Sketches, of which mention has been made above, are 
in artists' language a sort of first drawing made to find 
out the manner of the pose, and the first composition of 
the work. They are made in the form of a blotch, 
and are put down by us only as a rough draft of 
the whole. Out of the artist's impetuous mood they are 
hastily thrown off, with pen or other drawing instru- 
ment or with charcoal, only to test the spirit of that 
which occurs to him, and for this reason we call them 
sketches. From these come afterwards the drawings 
executed in a more finished manner, in the doing of which 
the artist tries with all possible diligence to copy from 
the life, if he do not feel himself strong enough to be 
able to produce them from his own knowledge. Later 
on, having measured them with the compasses or by the 
eye, he enlarges from the small to a larger size according 
to the work in hand. Drawings are made in various 
materials,^ that is, either with red chalk, which is 

^The innumerable sketches and finished drawings that have come down to 
us from the hands of Florentine artists testify to the importance given in 
the school to preliminary studies for painting, and any collection will furnish 
examples of the different methods of execution here described. Drawings by 
Venetian masters, who felt in colour rather than In form, are not so numerous 
or so elaborate. 


a stone coming from the mountains of Germany, soft 
enough to' be easily sawn and reduced to a fine point 
suitable for marking on leaves of paper in any way you 
wish; or with black chalk that comes from the hills of 
France, which is of the same nature as the red. Other 
drawings in light and shade are executed on tinted paper 
which gives a middle shade; the pen marks the outlines, 
that is, the contour or profile, and afterwards half-tone 
or shadow is given with ink mixed with a little water 
which produces a delicate tint : further, with a fine brush 
dipped in white lead mixed with gum, the high lights 
are added. This method is very pictorial, and best shows 
the scheme of colouring. Many work with the pen 
alone, leaving the paper for the lights, which is difficult 
but in effect most masterly; and innumerable other 
methods are practised in drawing, of which it is not needful 
to make mention, because all represent the same thing, 
that is drawing. 

The designs having been made in this way, the artist 
who wishes to work in fresco, that is, on the wall, must 
make cartoons; many indeed prepare them even for 
working on panel. The cartoons are made thus : sheets 
of paper, I mean square sheets, are fastened together with 
paste made of flour and water cooked on the fire. They 
are attached to the wall by this paste, which is spread 
two fingers' breadth all round on the side next the wall, 
and are damped all over by sprinkling cold water on 
them. In this moist state they are stretched so that 
the creases are smoothed out in the drying. Then 
when they are dry the artist proceeds, with a long rod, 
having a piece of charcoal at the end, to transfer to the 
cartoon (in enlarged proportions), to be judged of at a 
distance, all that in the small drawing is shown on the 
small scale. In this manner little by little he finishes, 
now one figure and now another. At this point the 
painters go through all the processes of their art in repro- 
ducing their nudes from the life, and the drapery from 
nature, and they draw the perspectives in the same schemes 


that have been adopted on a small scale in the first drawing, 
enlarging them in proportion. 

If in these there should be perspective views, or 
buildings, these are enlarged with the net, which is a 
lattice of small squares that are made large on the cartoon, 
reproducing everything correctly, for of course when the 
artist has drawn out the perspectives in the small designs, 
taking them from the plan and setting up the elevations 
with the right contours, and making the lines diminish 
and recede by means of the intersections and the vanishing 
point, he must reproduce them in proportion on the 
cartoon. But I do not wish to speak further of the mode 
of drawing these out, because it is a wearisome theme 
and difficult to explain. It is enough to say that per- 
spectives are beautiful in so far as they appear correct 
when looked at, and diminish as they retire from the eye, 
and when they are composed of a varied and beautiful 
scheme of buildings. The painter must take care too, 
to make them diminish in proportion by means of delicate 
gradations of colour that presuppose in the artist correct 
discretion and good judgement.^ The need of this is 
shown in the difficulty of the many confused lines gathered 
from the plan, the profile, and the intersection ; but when 
covered with colour everything becomes clear, and in 
consequence the artist gains a reputation for skill and 
understanding and ingenuity in his art. 

Many masters also before making the composition on 
the cartoon, adopt the plan of fashioning a model in clay 
on a plane and of setting up all the figures in the round 
to see the projections,^ that is, the shadows caused by a 
light being thrown on to the figures, which projections 
correspond to the shadow cast by the sun, that more 
sharply than any artificial light defines the figures by shade 
on the ground ; and so portraying the whole of the work, 
they have marked the shadows that strike across now one 

'That is to say, by observation of aerial as well as linear perspective. 
' This practice is noticed in the case of more than one artist of whom Vasari 
lias written the biography. Tintoretto is one. See also postea, p. 216. 


figure, now another, whence it comes that on account of 
the pains taken the cartoons as well as the work reach the 
most finished perfection and strength, and stand out from 
the paper in relief. All this shows the whole to be most 
beautiful and highly finished. 

§ 7^ The Use of Cartoons in Mural and Panel Painting. 

/^When these cartoons are used for fresco or wall painting, 
every day at the. junction with yesterday's work a piece 
of the cartoon is cut off and traced on the wall, which 
must be plastered afresh and perfectly smoothed.* This 
piece of cartoon is put on the spot where the figure is to 
be, and is marked; so that next day, when another piece 
comes to be added, its exact place may be recognized, 
and no error can arise. Afterwards, for transferring the 
outlines on to the said piece, the artist proceeds to impress 
them with an iron stylus upon the coat of plaster, which, 
being fresh, yields to the paper and thus remains marked. 
He then removes the cartoon and by means of those marks 
traced on the wall goes on to work with colours; this 
then is how work in fresco or on the wall is carried out. 
The same tracing is done on panels and on canvas, bilt 
in this case the cartoon is all in one piece, the only 
difference being that it is necessary to rub the back of 
the cartoon with charcoal or black powder, so that when 
marked afterwards with the instrument it may transmit 
the outlines and tracings to the canvas or panel. The 
cartoons are made in order to secure that the work shall 
be carried out exactly and in due proportion. There are 
many painters who for work in oil will omit all this ; but 
for fresco work it must be done and cannot be avoided. 
Certainly the man who found out such an invention had 
a good notion, since in the cartoons one sees the effect 
of the work as a whole and these can be adjusted and 
altered until they are right, which cannot be done on the 
work itself. 

■* See the Note on ' Fresco Painting ' at the close of the ' Introduction ' to 
Painting, postea, p. 287. 


Of the Foreshortening of Figures looked at from beneath, and of 
those on the Level. 

§ 79. Foreshortenings. 

Our artists have had the greatest skill in foreshortening 
figures, that is, in making!^ them appear larger than they 
really are; a foreshortening being to us a thing drawn 
in shortened view, which seeming to the eye to project 
forward has not the length or height that it appears to 
have; however, the mass, outlines, shadows, and lights 
make it seem to come forward and for this reason it 
is called foreshortened. Never was there painter or 
draughtsman that did better work of this sort than our 
Michelagnolo Buonarroti,^ and even yet no one has been 
able to surpass him, he has made his figures stand out so 
marvellously. For this work he first made models in clay 
or wax, and from these, because they remain stationary, 
he took the outlines, the lights, and the shadows, rather 
than from the living model. These foreshortenings 
give the greatest trouble to him who does not understand 
them because his intelligence does not help him to reach 
the depth of such a difficulty, to overcome which is a 
more formidable task than any other in painting. 
Certainly our old painters, as lovers of the art, found the 
solution of the difficulty by usin pf 1ine.s in p ers pprtui R, 

1 Michelangelo's greatest (our de force in foreshortening, much lauded by 
Vasari in his Life of the master, is the figure of the prophet Jonah on the 
end wall of the Sistine chapel. It is painted at the springing of the vault, on 
a surface that is inclined sharply towards the spectator, but the figure is so 
drawn as to appear to be leaning back in the opposite direction. 


a thing never done before, and made therein so much 
progress that to-day there is true mastery in the execu- 
tion of forpshortenings. Those who censure the method 
of foreshortening, I speak of our artists, are those who 
do not know how to employ it; and for the sake of 
exalting themselves go on lowering others. We have 
however a considerable number of master painters who, 
although skilful, do not take pleasure in making fore- 
shortened figures, and yet when they see how beautiful 
they are and how difficult, they not only do not censure 
but praise them highly. Of these foreshortenings the 
moderns have given us some examples which are to the 
point and difficult enough, as for instance in a vault the 
figures which look upwards, are foreshortened and retire. 
We call these foreshortenings ' al di sotto in su ' (in the 
' up from below ' style), and they have such force that 
they pierce the vaults. These cannot be executed witho ut 
study from the life, or f rom models at suitable heights , 
else the attitudes and movements of such things cannot be 
caught. And certainly the difficulty in this kind of work 
calls forth the highest grace as well as great beauty, and 
results in something stupendous in art. You will find, 
in the Lives of our Artists, that they have given very great 
salience to works of this kind, and laboured to complete 
them perfectly, whence they have obtained great praise. 
The foreshortenings from beneath upwards (di sotto in su) 
are so named because t he object represented is pIpvatpH 
a nd looked at by the eye raised upwards, and is not on 
t he level line of the horizon : wherefore because one must 
raise the head in the wish to see them, and perceives first 
the soles of the feet and the other lower parts we find the 
said name justly chosen^^ 

^Correggio is responsible for many of the forced effects of drawing in the 
decorative painting of vaults and ceilings in later times, but the Umbrian 
Melozzo da Fori! in his painting of the Ascension of Christ, now destroyed 
save for the fragments in the Quirinal and in the sacristy of St. Peter's at 
Rome, may have the doubtful honour of beginning the practice of foreshortening 
a whole composition, so that the scene is painted as it would appear were 
we looking up at it from underneath. 


How Colours in oil painting, in fresco, or in tempera should be blended : 
and how the Flesh, the Draperies and all that is depicted come to 
be harmonized in the work in such a manner that the figures do 
not appear cut up, and stand out well and forcibly and show the 
work to be clear and comprehensible. 

§ 80. On Colouring. 

TTnttv \r\ paintings is prnHnrpH whpn a v aripty of different 

c olours p re- harmnniypH tngpthprj these colours in all the 
diversity of many designs s how the parts of the figure s 
distinct the one from the other^ as the flesh from the hair, 
and one garment different in colour from another. When 
Ahese colours are laid on flashing and vivid in a disagree- 
able discordance so that they are like stains and loaded 
Vith body, as was formerly tlie wont with some painters, 
the design becomes marred/in such a manner that the 
figures are left painted by the patches of colour rather 
than by the brush, which distributes the light and shade 
over the.figures and makes them appear natural and in 
.relief. ^^11 pictures then whether in oil, in fresco, or in 
tempem ought to be so blended in their colours that the 
principal figures in the g roups are brought out with the 
utmost clearness, jthe. draperies of those in front being 
kept so light that the figures which stand behind a re 
darker than the first, and so little by little as the figure s 
retire inward s7 they become also in equal measure gradu- 
ally lower in tone in the colour both of the flesh tints 
and of the vestments. And especially let there be great 
care always in putting the most attractive, the most 
charming , and the most bea utiful colours on the princip al 
figures, and above all on those that are complete and not 


cut off bv others , because these are always the most con - 
^jT irnnus and are more looked a t than others which ser ve 
ac f^p harlfgrniin ri tn the colouring of the former. A 
§aliaw. -Golour^ mak es , a n o th e r whirh i s--placfi.d-bgsjde it 
agpear-the-more -Lively, and melancholy and pallid colours 
make those near then/very cheerful and almost of a certain 
flaming beauty.^ ^^or ought one to clothe the nude with 
heavy colours tnat would make too sharp a division 
between the flesh and the draperies when the said draperies 
pass across the nude figures, but let the colours of the 
lights of the drapery be delicate and similar to the tints 
of the flesh, either yellowish or reddish, violet or purple, 
making the depths either green or blue or purple or 
yellow, provided that they tend to a dark shade and make 
a harmonious sequence in the rounding of the figures 
with their shadows; just as we see in the life, that those 
parts that appear nearest to our eyes, have most light 
and the others, retiring from view, lose light and colourv/' 
In the same manner the colours should be employed 
with so much harmony that a dark and a light are not 
left unpleasantly contrasted in light and shade, so as to 
create a discordance and a disagreeable lack of unity, 
save only in the case of the projections, which are those 
shadows that the figures throw one on to the other, when 
a ray of light strikes on a principal figure, and makes it 
darken the second with its projected shadow. And these 
again when they occur must be painted with sweetness 
and harmony, because he who throws them into disorder 
makes that picture look like a coloured carpet or a handful 
of playing cards, rather than blended flesh or soft clothing 
or other things that are light, delicate, and sweet. For as 
the ear remains offended by a strain of music that is noisy, 
jarring or hard — save however in certain places and times, 

'This truth, about the mutual influence of colours in juxtaposition, was 
well put by Sir Charles Eastlake when he wrote, in his Materials for a 
History of Oil Painting, ' flesh is never more glowing than when opposed 
to blue, never more pearly than when compared with red, never ruddier than 
in the neighbourhood of green, never fairer than when contrasted with black, 
nor richer or deeper than when opposed to white.' 


as I said of the strong shadows — so the eye is offended 
by colours that are overcharged or crude. As the too 
fiery mars the design ; so the dim, sallow, flat, and over- 
delicate makes a thing appear quenched, old, and smoke- 
dried; but the concord that is established between the 
fiery and the flat tone is perfect and delights the eye just 
as harmonious and subtle music delights the ear. Certain 
parts of the figures must be lost in the obscure tints and 
in the background of the group; for, if these parts were 
to appear too vivid and fiery, they would confound the 
distinction between the figures, but by remaining dark 
and hazy almost as background they give even greater 
force to the others which are in front. Nor can one believe 
how much grace and beauty is given to the work by 
varying the colours of the flesh, making the complexion 
of the young fresher than that of the old, giving to the 
middle-aged a tint between a brick-colour and a greenish 
yellow ; and almost in the same way as in drawing one 
contrasts the mien of the old with that of youths and young 
girls and children, so the sight of one face soft and plump, 
and another fresh and blooming, makes in the painting 
a most harmonious dissonance. 

In this way one ought, in working, to jTijt the Hajjf 
t ints where thev are least ronspjcuous and make leas t 
di vision, in order to bring nut the fignrpg, ag |<5 seen in 
the pictures of Raffaello da UrM ao and of other excellent 
painters who have followed this manner. One ought not 
however to hold to this rule in the groups where the lights 
imitate those of the sun and moon or of fires or bright 
things at night, because these effects are produced by 
means of hard and sharp contrasts as happens in life. 
And in the upper part, wherever such a light may strike 
there will always be sweetness and harmony. One can 
recognize in those pictures which possess these qualities 
that the intelligence of the painter has by the harmony 
of his colours assured the excellence of the design, given 
charm to the picture, and prominence and stupendous 
force to the figures. 

Plaie X 

to illustrate 
method of 

With illustrations of methods of measurement 


Of Painting on the Wall, how it is done, and why it is called 
Working in Fresco. 

§ 8i. The Fresco process. 

Of all the methods that painters employ, painting on the 
wall is the most masterly and beautiful, because it consists 
in doing in a single day that which, in the other methods, 
may be retouched day after day, over the work already 
done. Fresco was much used among the ancients,^ and 
the older masters among the moderns have continued to 
employ it. It is worked on the plaster while it is fresh 
and must not be left till the day's portion is finished. The 
reason is that if there be any delay in painting, tjie plaster 
f orms a certain slight r.rii.s t whether fro m heat nr cold 
nr riirrprntt! nf air nr ffost whereby the whole work is 
Stained and grows mould x. To prevent this the wall that 
is to be painted . must be kept continually moist ; and 
the colours employed thereon must all be of earths and 
not metallic and the white of calcined travertine.^ There 
is needed also a hand that is dexterous, resolute and rapid, 
but most of all a sound and perfect judgement ; because 
while the wall is wet the colours show up in one fashion, 
and afterwards when dry they are no longer the same. 

'Vitruvius describes the fresco process in his seventh Book. See Note on 
' Fresco Painting ' at the end of the ' Introduction ' to Painting, postea, p. 287. 
This chapter is one of the most interesting in the three ' Introductions.' 

^Travertine, next to marble, makes when burnt the whitest lime (see § 30, 
ante, p. 86). From this lime the fresco white, called bianco Sangiovanni, is 
made, and Cennini gives the recipe for its preparation in his s8th chapter. 
The ordinary lead white (biacca) cannot be used in fresco. 


Therefore in these works done in fresco it is necessary 
that the judgement of the painter should play a more 
important part than his drawing, and that he should have 
for his guide the very greatest experience, it being 
supremely difficult to bring fresco work to perfection. 
Many of our artists excel in the other kinds of work, that 
is, in oil or in tempera, but in this do not succeed, fresco 
being truly the most manly, most certain, most resolute 
and durable of all the other methods, and as time goes 
on it continually acquires infinitely more beauty and 
harmony than do the others. Exposed to the air fresco 
throws off all impurities, water does not penetrate it, and 
it resists anything that would injure it. But beware of 
having to retouch it with colours that contain size pre- 
pared from parchment, or the yolk of egg, or gum or 
tragacanth, as many painters do, for besides preventing 
the wall from showing up the work in all clearness, the 
colours become clouded by that retouching and in a short 
time turn black. Therefore let those who desire to work 
on the wall work boldly in fresco and not retouch in the 
dry, because, besides being a very poor thing in itself, it 
renders the life of the pictures short, as has been said 
in another place. 


Of Painting in Tempera,' or with egg, on Panel or Canvas, and how 
it is employed on the wall which is dry. 

§ 82. Painting in Tempera. 

Before the time of Cimabue and from that time onwards, 
worlis done by the Greeks in tempera on panel and 
occasionally on the wall have always been seen. And 
these old masters when they laid the gesso ground on 

' The word ' tempera ' is used by Vasari and other writers as a noun 
meaning (i) a substance mixed with another, as a medium with pigments (2) 
a liquid in which hot steel is plunged to give it a particular molecular quality 
(ante, p. 30) (3) the quality thus given to the steel (ante, p. 32), while (4) 
it has come to mean in modern times, as in the heading of this Note, a 
particular kind of painting. It is really to be regarded as the imperative of 
the verb 'temperare,' which alike in Latin and in Italian means 'to divide 
or proportion duly,' 'to qualify by mixing,' and generally 'to regulate' or 'to 
discipline.' 'Tempera' thus means strictly 'mix' or 'regulate.' It is used 
in the latter sense in metallurgy, as the liquid which Vasari calls (ante, p. 30) 
a 'tempera' (translated ' tempering-bath ') regulates the amount of hardness or 
elasticity required in the metal, and the quaUty the steel thus receives is 
called (ante, p. 32) its 'temper.' I n the case of painting the ' tempera ' is the 
binding material mixed with the pigment to secure its adhesio n to the ground 
when it is Hrv. The painting process is, in Italian, painting 'a tempera' 'with 
a mixture, ' and our expression ' tempera painting ' is a loose one. For the 
form of the word we may compare 'recipe,' also employed as a substantive 
but really an imperative meaning 'take.' 

Strictly speaking any medium mixed with pigments makes the process one 
'a tempera.' Many substances may be thus used, some soluble in water, as 
size, gum, honey, and the like ; others insoluble in water, such as drying oils, 
varnishes, resins, etc., while the inside of an egg which is in great part 
oleaginous may have a place between. It is not the usage however to apply 
the term ' tempera ' to drying oils or varnishes, and a distinction is always made 
between 'tempera painting' and "oil painting.' See Note on 'Tempera 
Fainting,' postea, p. 291. 


their panels, fearing lest they should open at the joints, 
were accustomed to cover them all over with linen cloth 
attached with glue of parchment shreds, and then above 
that they put on the gesso to make their working ground.^ 
The y then mixed the colours thev were going to use wi th 
th e yolk of an egg or temper a.^ of the following kind. 
They whisked up an egg and shredded into it a tender 
branch of a fig tree, in order that the milk of this with 
the egg should make the tempera of the colours, which 
after being mixed with this medium were ready for use. 
They chose for these panels mineral colours of which some 
are made by the chemists and some found in the mines. 
And for this kind of work all pigments are good, except 
the white used for work on walls made with lime, for 
that is too strong. In this manner their works and their 
pictures are executed, and this they call colouring in 
tempera. But the blues are mixed with parchment size, 
because the yellow of the egg would turn them green 
whereas size does not affect them, nor does gum. The 
same method is followed on panels whether with or without 
a gesso ground; and thus on walls when they are dry 
the artist gives one or two coats of hot size, and afterwards 
with colours mixed with that size he carries out the whole 
work. The process of mixing colours with size is easy 
if what has been related of tempera be observed. Nor 
will the colours suffer for this since there are yet seen 
things in tempera by our old masters which have been 

I ^This practice of covering wooden panels with linen and laying over this 
the gesso painting ground was in use in ancient Egypt. In fact the methods 
described by Cennini of preparing and grounding panels are almost exactly 
the same as those used in ancient Egypt for painting wooden mummy-cases. 
Even the practice, so much used in early Italian art, of modelling details and 
ornaments in relief in gesso and gilding them, is common on the mummy- 
cases. On the subject of gesso see Note 5 on p. 249. 

'Vasari's expression 'rosso dell' uovo o tempera, la quale e questa' calls 
attention to the fact, to which his language generally bears testimony, that he 
looked upon the yolk of egg medium as the tempera par excellence. When he 
uses the term 'tempera' alone he has the egg medium in his mind, and the 
size medium is something apart. See this chapter throughout. 


preserved in great beauty and freshness for hundreds of 
years.* And certainly one still sees things of Giotto's, 
some even on panel, that have already lasted two hundred 
years and are preserved in very good condition. Working 
in oil has come later, and this has made many put aside 
the method of tempera : in so much that to-day we see 
that the oil medium has been, and still is, continually 
used for panel pictures and other works of importance. 

^Tempera painting has had a far longer history and more extensive use 
than any other kind. The technique predominated for all kinds of painting 
among the older Oriental peoples and in classical lands, and was in use both 
on walls and on panels in Western Europe north of the Alps during the whole 
mediaeval period, while south of the Alps and at Byzantium it was to a great 
extent superseded for mural painting by firesco, but remained in fashion for panels 
till the end of the fifteenth century. After the fifteenth century the oil medium, 
as Vasari remarks, superseded it entirely for portable pictures, and partly for work 
on walls and ceilings, but in our own time there has been a partial revival of 
the old technique. See Note on 'Tempera Painting,' postea, p. 291. 

The whole question of the diflferent vehicles and methods used in painting 
at various periods is a difficult and complicated one, and too often chemical 
analysis fails to give satisfactory results owing to the small amount of material 
available for experiment. Berger, in his Beitrage zur Entvdcklungs-Geschichte 
der Maltecknik, an unfinished work that has already run to a thousand pages, 
goes elaborately into the subject, but has to admit that many points are still 
doubtful. It makes comparatively little difference what particular medium is 
used in tempera painting, but it is of great importance to decide whether a 
particular class of work is in tempera or in fresco. In connection with this 
Berger has reopened the old controversy as to the technique of Pompeian wall 
paintings, which have been accepted as frescoes, on the authority of Otto 
Donner, for a generation past. There are difficulties about Pompeian work 
and it is well that the question has again been raised, but Berger goes much 
too far when he attempts to deny to the ancients the knowledge and use of 
the fresco process. The evidence on this point of Vitruvius is quite decisive, 
as he, and Pliny after him, refer to the process of painting on wet plaster in 
the most unmistakeable terms. See Note on ' Fresco Painting, postea, 
p. 287. 

Of Painting in Oil on Panel or on Canvas. 

§ 83. Oil Painting, its Discovery and Early History. 

A MOST beautiful invention and a great convenience 
to the art of Painting, was tiie discovery of colouring 
in oil. The first inventor of it was John of Bruges in 
Flanders,^ who sent the panel to Naples to King Alfonso,^ 

1 This passage about the early painters of Flanders occurs just as it stands, 
with some trifling verbal differences, in Vasari's first edition of 1550. The 
best commentary on it is, first, the account of the same artists in Guicciardini's 
Descrittione di Tutti i Paesi Bassi, first published at Antwerp in 1567, and 
next, Vasari's own notes on divers Flemish artists which he added at the end 
of the Lives in the second edition of 1568 (Of ere, ed. Milanesi, vil, 579 f.). 
He there made certain additions and corrections from Guicciardini, the most 
noteworthy of which is the mention of Hubert van Eyck, whom Vasari 
ignores in this passage of the Introduction, but who is just referred to by 
Guicciardini at the end of his sentences on the younger brother — 'A pari 
a pari di Giovanni andava Huberto suo fratello, il quale viveva, e dipingeva 
continuamente sopra le medesime opere, insieme con esso fratello.' Vasari 
however in the notes of 1568 goes much farther than this, and, though he 
does not call Hubert the elder brother, he seems to ascribe to him personally 
the supposed 'invention' — 'Huberto suo fratello, che nel 1510 (sic) mise in 
luce r invenzione e modo di colorire a olio' (Opere, I.e.). 'John of Bruges' 
is of course Jan van Eyck. Vasari writes of him at the end of the Lives as 
'John Eyck of Bruges.' Vasari's statement in this sentence is of great 
historical importance, for it is the first affirmation of a definite ' invention ' of 
oil painting, and the first ascription of this invention to van Eyck. As van 
Eyck's own epitaph makes no mention of this, and as oil painting was practised 
long before his time, Vasari's statement has naturally been questioned, and 
on the subject the reader will find a Note at the close of the ' Introduction ' 
to Painting, postea, p. 294. 

^ It was long supposed that this picture was the ' Epiphany ' preserved 
behind the High Altar of the Church of S. Barbara, Naples, but Crowe and 
Cavalcaselle, History of Painting in North Italy, n, 103, pronounce this 'a 
feeble and injured picture of the eighteenth century.' 


and to the Duke of Urbino, Federico II, ^ the paintings 
for his bathroom. He made also a San Gironimo,* that 
Lorenzo de' Medici possessed, and many other estimable 
things. Then Roger of Bruges ^ his disciple followed 
him ; and Ausse (Hans) ® disciple of Roger, who painted 

' Frederick of Urbino (there were not two of the name as Vasari supposes) 
seems to have had a bathroom decorated with secular compositions by the 
Flemish master. Facio, whose tract De Viris lllustribus, written in the middle 
of the fifteenth century, was printed at Florence in 1745, writes, p. 46, of 
' Joannes Gallicus ' (who can be identified as Jan van Eyck) who had painted 
certain ' picturae nobiles ' then in the possession of Cardinal Octavianus, with 
'representations of fair women only slightly veiled at the bath.' Such pictures 
were considered suitable decorations for bath chambers. There is a curious 
early example of mediaeval date in the Schloss Runkelstein near Botzen in the 
Tyrol, in the form of wall paintings round a bathroom on one side of which 
nude figures are seen preparing to enter the water, while on two other walls 
spectators of both sexes are seen looking in through an open arcade. The 
pictures here referred to by van Eyck are now lost, but by a curious 
coincidence attention has just been directed to an existing copy of one of them, 
of which Facio gives a special notice. The copy occurs in a painting by Verhaecht 
of Antwerp, 1593-1637, that represents the picture gallery of an Antwerp con- 
noisseur at about the date 1615. There on the wall is seen hanging the van 
Eyck, that corresponds closely to the full description given by Facio. The 
painting by Verhaecht was shown at Burlington House in the Winter Exhibition, 
1906-7, and in the 'Toison d'Or' Exhibition at Bruges in 1907. See also 
the Burlington Magazine, February, 1907, p. 325. It may be added that 
the Cardinal Octavianus mentioned above was a somewhat obscure prelate, 
who received the purple from Gregory XII in 1408. 

*The latest editors of Vasari (Opere, ed. Milanesi, I, 184) think this may 
be a picture in the Museum at Naples, ascribed there to an apocryphal 
artist ' Colantonio del Fiore.' Von Wurzbach says it is by a Neapolitan 
painter influenced by the Flemings. 

^ Roger van der Weyden, more properly called, as by Guicciardini and by 
Vasari in 1568, 'Roger of Brussels.' In 1449 he made a. journey to Italy, 
and stayed for a time at Ferrara, which under the rule of the art-loving Este 
was very hospitable to foreign craftsmen. He was in Rome in 1450 and may 
have visited Florence and other centres. His own style in works subsequent 
to this journey shows little of Italian influence. 

' Hans Memling. < No Flemish painter of note,' remark Crowe and 
Cavalcaselle, Early Flemish Painters, p. 256, ' produced pictures more attractive 
to the Italians than Memling.' The Portinari, for whom Memling worked, were 
Florentine merchants who had a house at Bruges, the commercial connection 
of which with Tuscany was very close. In his Notes on Flemish Painters at 


for the Portinari at Santa Maria Nuova in Florence a 
small picture which is to-day in Duke Cosimo's possession. 
From his hand also comes the picture at Careggi, a villa 
outside of Florence belonging to the most illustrious house 
of the Medici. There were likewise among the first 
painters in oil Lodovico da Luano "^ and Pietro Crista,^ and 

the end of the Lives, Vasari says that the subject of ' a small picture in the 
possession of the Duke ' which is probably the one here mentioned, was ' The 
Passion of Christ.' If this be the case, it cannot be the beautiful little 
Memling now in the Uffizi, No. 703, for the subject of this is 'The Virgin 
and Child.' It might possibly however be the panel of 'The Seven Griefs,' 
a. Passion picture in the Museum at Turin. On the other hand, Passavant 
thought the Turin panel was the ' Careggi ' picture that Vasari goes on to 
mention. See Note on p. 268 of Crowe and Cavalcaselle's work. 

' The German editors of Vasari identified Lodovico da Luano with the well- 
known painter Dierich Bouts of Louvain, but the name Ludovico (Chlodwig, 
' Warrior of Renown ') is not the same etymologically as Dierich (Theodoric, 
' Prince of the People '). It is to be noted that in Guicciardini we find a 
mention of 'Dirich da Louano,' who is undoubtedly Dierich Bouts (the 
surname is derived from St Rombout the patron of Haarlem, where the 
painter, who is also called ' Dirick van Haarlem ' [see below], was born) 
and also a mention of Vasari's ' Ludovico da Luvano. ' A scrutiny however 
of the sentence in Guicciardini, where the last-mentioned name occurs, shows 
that it is copied almost verbatim from our text of Vasari. (Vasari [155°] • — 
' Similmente Lodovico da Luano & Pietro Christa, & maestro Martino, & 
ancora Giusto da Guanto, che fece la tavola della comunione de'l Duca d' 
Vrbino, & altre pitture; & Vgo d' Anuersa, che fe la tauola di Sancta Maria 
Nuoua di Fiorenza'; Guicciardini: — ' Seguirono o. mano a mano Lodouico da 
Louano, Pietro Crista, Martino d' Holanda, & Giusto da Guanto, che fece 
quella nobil' pittura della comunione al Duca d' Vrbino, & dietro a lui venne 
Vgo d' Anuersa, che fece la bellissima tauola, che si vede a Hrenze in santa 
Maria nuoua '). Vasari is accordingly responsible for this ' Ludovico da Luano,' 
whose name is duly chronicled in von Wurzbach's ' Niederlandisches Kiinstkr- 
Lexicon, Leipzig, 1906, II, p. 69, on the authority of Guicciardini alone, 
and who is called in M. Ruelens's annotations to the French edition of Crowe 
and Cavalcaselle 'Louys de Louvain (peintre encore inconnu).' Subsequently 
Guicciardini mentions also a ' Dirich d' Harlem,' who can be none other 
than the same Dierick Bouts, and Vasari, as a return favour, copies back 
all three Diericks into his Notes at the end of the edition of 156S. The 
first ' Ludovico ' may be merely due to a mistake in the text of Vasari 
carelessly adopted by Guicciardini. Vasari's copyist may have written 
' Ludovico ' in place of the somewhat similar ' Teodorico.' There was 
however a certain Ludovicus Dalmau or Dalman (D'Alamagna ? ), a Flemish 


master Martin ^ and Justus of Ghent ^° who painted the 
panel of the communion of. the Duke of Urbino and other 
pictures; and Hugo of Antwerp who was the author of 
the picture at Santa Maria Nuova in Florence. ^^ This 
art was afterwards brought into Italy by Antonello da 
Messina, who spent many years in Flanders, and when 
he returned to this side of the mountains, he took up 
his abode in Venice, and there taught the art to some 
friends. One of these was Domenico Veniziano, who 
brought it afterwards to Florence, where he painted in 
oil the chapel of the Portinari in Santa Maria Nuova. 
Here Andrea dal Castagno learned the art and taught it 
to other masters, ^^ among whom it was amplified and 

painter who worked at Barcelona in Spain about 1445 (von Wurzbach, sub 
voce) who may be meant, though there is no indication of a connection 
between him and Louvain. 

* Pietro Crista is of course Petrus Christus or Christi of Bruges, an imitator, 
though as Mr Weale has shown not an actual pupil, of the van Eycks. 
Von Wurzbach says that Guicciardini was the first to mention his name, but 
Vasari in 1550 already knows him. As an explanation of the surname it has 
been suggested that the artist's father may have had a reputation as a painter 
or carver of Christ-figures, so that Petrus would be called ' son of the 

° The name Martin belongs to painters of two generations in Ghent, and 
von Wurzbach thinks it is the earlier of these, Jan Martins, apparently a 
scholar of the van Eycks, who is referred to here, and called by Guicciardini 
(see above), and by Vasari in 1568, ' Martino d' Holanda.' There was a 
later and better known Martin of Ghent called ' Nabor Martin.' The more 
famous ' Martins,' ' of Heemskerk,' and ' Schongauer,' when referred to by 
Vasari, have more distinct indications of their identity. See, e.g., Opere, 
V. 396- 

"■Justus of Ghent worked at Urbino, where he finished the altar piece 
referred to by Vasari in 1474. The ' other pictures ' may be a series of 
panels painted for the library at Urbino, on which Crowe and Cavalcaselle 
have an interesting paragraph, op. cit. p. 180. 

" Hugo of Antwerp is Hugo van der Goes, whose altar piece painted for 
S. Maria Nuova at Florence has now been placed in the Uffizi. 

" Vasari's stories about the connection with oil painting of Antonello da 
Messina, Domenico Veneziano, and Andrea dal Castagno have of course been 
subjected to a good deal of hostile criticism. Those about the two latter 
artists are in the meantime relegated to the limbo of fable, but the case of 


went on gaining in importance till the time of Pietro 
Perugino, of Leonardo da Vinci and of Raffaello da 
Urbino, so much so that it has now attained to that beauty 
which thanks to these masters our artists have achieved. 
This manner of painting kindles the pigments and nothing 
else is needed save diligence and devotion, because the 
oil in itself softens and sweetens the colours and renders 
them more delicate and more easily blended than do the 
other mediums. While the work is wet the colours readily 
mix and unite one with the other; in short, by this method 
the artists impart wonderful grace and vivacity and vigour 
to their figures, so much so that these often seem to us 
in relief and ready to issue forth from the panel, especially 
when they are carried out in good drawing with invention 
and a beautiful style. 

§ 84. How to Prime the Panel or Canvas. 

I must now explain how to set about the work. When 
the artist wishes to begin, that is, after he has laid the 
gesso on the panels or framed canvases and smoothed 
it, he spreads over this with a sponge four or five coats of 
the smoothest size, and proceeds to grind the colours 
with walnut or linseed oil, though walnut oil is better 
because it yellows less with time. When they are ground 
with these oils, which is their tempera (medium), nothing 
else is needed so far as the colours are concerned, but to 
lay them on with a brush. But first there must be made 
a composition of 2igments which possess seccative qualiti es 
a s white lead, dryers, and earth such as is used for bells . ^^ 

Antonello da Messina is somewhat diflferent, and we are not dependent in 
his case on Vasari alone. He certainly did not visit Flanders in the lifetime 
of Jan van Eyck, for this artist died before Antonello was born, but von 
Wurzbach accepts as authentic a visit on his part to Flanders between 1465 
and 1475, and sees evidence of what he learned there in his extant works 
(Niederliindischts Kunstler- Lexicon, sub voce, ' Antonello'). 

"'Terre da campane,' 'bell earths.' There seem to be two possible 
meanings for the phrase. It may refer to the material used for the moulds 
in bell casting, or to the clay from which are made the little terra-cotta 


all th oroughly well mixed together and of one tin t, and 
when the size is dry this must beplastefed over the pan el 
an d then beaten with the palm of the hand, so that it 
bec omes evenly } \T\\tpr\ anH cprgaH all mrprj and this man;^ 
c all the ' imprimatiira ' (p rimLng-) . 

§ 85. Drawing, by transfer or directly. 

After spreading the said composition or pigment all 
over the panel, the cartoon that you have made with figures 
and inventions all your own may be put on it, and under 
this cartoon another sheet of paper covered with black 
on one side, that is, on that part that lies on the priming. 
Having fixed both the one and the other with little nails, 
take an iron point or else one of ivory or hard wood and 
go over the outlines of the cartoons, marking them firmly. 
In so doing the cartoon is not spoiled and all the figures 
and other details on the cartoon become very well outlined 
on the panel or framed canvas. 

He who does not wish to make cartoons should draw 
with tailors' white chalk over the priming or else with 
charcoal made from the willow tree, because both are 
easily erased. Thus it is seen that the artist, after the 
priming is dry, either tracing the cartoon or drawing 
with white chalk, makes the first sketch 1* which some call 
' imporre ' (getting it in). And having finished covering 
the whole the artist returns to it again to complete it 
with the greatest care : and here he employs all his art 
and diligence to bring it to perfection. In this manner 
do the masters in oil proceed with their pictures. 

bells by which children in Italy set great store on the occasion of the mid- 
summer festival. This last is improbable. 

Baldinucci, Vocabolario del Disegno, sub voce ' Nero di Terra di Campana,' 
says that this is a colour made out of a certain scale that forms on moulds 
for casting bells or cannon, and that it is good with oil, but does not stand 
in fresco. Lomazzo also mentions the pigment. 

" ' L' abbozza * evidently refers to the first or under-painting, not to the 
sketch in chalk, for in the first edition the passage has some additional 
words which make this clear. They run as follows : ' desegnando quella : e 
cosi ne primi colori 1' abozza, il che alcuni chiamono imporre.' 

Of Painting in Oil on a Wall which is dry. 

§ 86. Mural Painting in Oil. 

When artists wish to work in oil nn the dry wall two 
methods may be followed : first, if the wall have been 
whitened, either ' a fresco ' or otherwise, it must be 
srrape H ; or if it be left grpnoth withrMit whitpning but only 
plastered there must be given to it two or three coats of 
boiled o il, the process being repeated till the wall cannot 
drink in more, and when dry it is covered over with the 
composition or priming spoken of in the last chapter. 
When this is finished and dry, the artist can trace or draw 
on it and can finish such work in the same manner as he 
treats the panel, always having a. Jittle varnish mixed with 
t he colours, because if he does this he need not varnish 
i t afterward s. The other method is for the artist to make, 
either with st urro nf marhip riiicit or finely pftiinderi hrirk. 
a rough cast that mi)c;f- he cmnni-liprl^ and to score it wit h 
th'^ pd;j° "f p <^'-^¥^<; l. in order that t h^ ^^H may b^ left 
seamed. Afterwards he puts on a coat of linseed oil, and 
then mixes in a bowl some Greek pitch and resin (mastice) 
and thick varnish, and when this is boiled it is thrown on 
to the wall with a big brush, and then spread all over 
with a builder's trowel that has been heated in the fire. 
This mixture fills up the scores in the rough cast and 
makes a very smooth skin over the wall, when dry it is 
covered with priming, or a composition worked in the 
manner usually adopted for oil, as we have already 

'With the above may be compared ch. 9 of Book vii of L. B. Alberti's 
De Re Aedificatoria. 


§ 87. Vasari's own Method. 

Since the experience of many years has taught me how 
to work in oil on a wall, I have recently, in painting the 
halls, chambers, and other rooms of Duke Cosimo's 
palace,^ followed the method frequently used by me in the 

2 The matter in our § 87 was added in the edition of 1568. Though Vasari 
declared so unhesitatingly for fresco as the finest of all processes of painting, 
he tells us that he used oil for a portion of his mural work in the Palazzo 
Vecchio at Florence, when he prepared it for the residence of Duke Cosimo, 
and we shall notice later his praise of tempera (postea, p. 291). Vasari 
describes how he painted in oil on the walls of a refectory at Naples (Of ere, 
VII, 674), and gives us an interesting notice of his experiments in the 
technique about the year 1540 at the monastery of the Camaldoli, near 
Arezzo, where he says ' feci esperimento di unire il colorito a olio con quelle 
(fresco) e riuscimmi assai acconciamente ' (Opere, vii, 667). The technique 
required proper working out, .for it was not a traditional one. 

The most notable instance of its employment before the end of the fifteenth 
century is in the case of the 'Last Supper' by Leonardo da Vinci at Milan. 
A commission of experts has recently been examining the remains of this, 
the most famous mural painting in the world, and has ascertained that the 
original process employed by Leonardo was not pure oil painting but a mixed 
process in which oil played only a part. The result at any rate, as all the 
world is aware, was the speedy ruin of the work, which now only tells as a 
design, there being but little of its creator's actual handiwork now visible. 

Some words of the Report are of sufficient interest to be quoted. ' Pur 
troppo, dunque, la stessa tecnica del maestro aveva in se il germe della rovina, 
ben presto, infatti, avvertita nelle sue opere murali. Spirito indagitore, 
innovatore, voglioso sempre di "provare e riprovare" egli voile abbandonare 
i vecchi, sicuri e sperimentati sistemi, per tentare 1' esito di sostanze oleose 
in miscela coi colori. Perche nemmeno pu6 dirsi ch' ei dipingesse, in questo 
caso, semplicemente, ad olio come avrebbe fatto ogni altro mortale entrato 
nell' errore di seguire quel metodo anche pei muri. Egli tentb invece cosa 
affato nuova ; poiche, se da un lato appaiono tracce di parziali e circoscritte 
arricciature in uso pel fresco, dall' altro, la presenza delle sostanze oleose e 
accertata dalla mancanza di adhesione dei colori con la superficie del muro e 
dalle speciali screpolature della crosta o pelle formata dai colori stessi, non 
che dal modo con quale il dipinto si e andato e si va lentamente disgregando 
e sfaldando.' BoUettino d' Arte del Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione, Roma, 
1907, I, p. 17- 

Another famous instance of the use of oil paint in mural work about a 
generation later is to be found in the Sala di Costantino in the Vatican, where 
Raphael's pupils have left two of the decorative figures by the side of the 
Popes executed in that medium. One (Urbanity) is close to the door leading 


past for this sort of work; which method is briefly this. 
Make the rough cast, over which put the plaster made 
of lime, pounded brick, and sand, and leave it to dry- 
thoroughly; that done, make a second coating of lime, 
very finely pounded brick, and the scum from iron works ; 
these three ingredients in equal proportions, bound with 
white of egg sufficiently beaten and linseed oil, make a 
very stiff stucco, such as cannot be excelled. But take 
great care not to neglect the plaster while it is fresh, lest 
it should crack in many places; indeed it is necessary, 
if one wish to keep it good, to be ever about it with the 
trowel or spatula or spoon, whichever we choose to call 
it, until it be all evenly spread over the surface in the 

to the Chapel of Nicholas V, the other is on the wall containing the battle, 
and is in better preservation than the first which is covered with wrinkles. 
The oil paint gives a certain depth and richness of effect, but there is the 
fatal disadvantage that the painting does not look a part of the wall as is the 
case with work done in fresco. The fresco is really executed in the material 
of the ground, whereas oils and varnishes have nothing in common with lime 
and earths, and the connection of structure and decoration is broken. One 
of the most successful pieces of work of the kind is the painting of ' Christ at 
the Pillar' by Sebastian del Piombo in S. Pietro in Montorio at Rome. The 
work, which is executed on a cylindrical surface, is rather shiny, an appearance 
which in mural painting is to be avoided, and it has darkened somewhat, 
though this defect is not very apparent and the experiment has on the 
whole succeeded well. Vasari's Life of Fra Sebastiano contains a good deal 
of information about this particular technique, which was essayed in the later 
age of Italian painting more often than is sometimes imagined. It needs 
hardly to be said that this oil painting on the actual plaster of the wall is a 
different thing from the modern process of painting on canvas in the studio 
and then cementing the completed picture on to the wall. Mural painting 
on canvas was introduced by the Venetians in the fifteenth century, for at 
Venice atmospheric conditions seem to have been unfavourable to the pre- 
servation of frescoes, and the Venetians preferred canvas to plaster for their 
work in oils. It would be interesting to know whether the canvas was ever 
fixed in situ before the painter commenced operations, as from the point of 
view of the preservation of decorative effect this would be of importance. 
Vasari's story about Tintoretto's proceedings at the Scuola di S. Rocco 
(Opere, VI, 594) is evidence that canvases were painted at home and put up 
on walls or ceilings when finished. Of course if a wall be covered with 
canvas before the painting begins the canvas is to all intents and purposes the 
wall itself, grounded in a certain way. 


way it has to remain. Then when this plaster is dry and 
some priming or composition laid over it, the figures and 
scenes can be perfectly carried out, as the works in the 
said palace and many others will clearly demonstrate to 

Of Painting in Oil on Canvas. 

§ 88. Painting on Canvas.^ 

In order to be able to convey pictures from one place to 
another men have invented the convenient method of 
painting on canvas, which is of little weight, and when 
rolled up is easy to transport. Unless these canvases 
intended for oil painting are to remain stationary, they 
are not covered with gesso, which would interfere with 
their flexibility, seeing that the gesso would crack if they 
were rolled up. A paste however is made of flour and 
walnut oil with two or three measures ^ of white lead put 

^The use of canvas for the purpose in view was, as Vasari mentions 
below, very common at Venice, where as early as about 1476, if we believe 
Vasari {Opere, III, 156), Gentile Bellini executed in this technique the large 
scenic pictures with which he adorned the Hall of Grand Council in the Ducal 
Palace. Such a process would come naturally enough to Italian painters as 
well as to the Flemings, for they had been accustomed from time immemorial 
to paint for temporary purposes on banners and draperies, after a fashion of 
which Mantegna's decorative frieze on fine canvas at Hampton Court is a 
classic example. Canvas had however been actually used for pictures even 
in ancient Egypt. Not only was the practice of stretchii^ linen over wooden 
panels to receive the painting ground in use there in the time of the New 
Empire, but some of the recently discovered mummy-case portraits from 
Egypt, of the earliest Christian centuries, are actually on canvas. There is 
an example in the National Gallery. At Rome painting on canvas is men- 
tioned by Pliny {Hisi. Nat., xxxv, 51) and Boethius {de Arithmetical Praef , I) 
says that ' picturae . . . lintea operosis elaborata textrinis . . . materiam 
praestant.' The Netherland painters of the fifteenth century nearly always 
painted on panel, but canvas was sometimes used, as by Roger van der 
Weyden in his paintings for the Town Hall at Brussels. 

^Vasari prescribes 'due o tre macinate' of white lead for mixture with the 
flour and nut oil for the priming of canvas. A 'macinata' was the amount 


into it, and after the canvas has been covered from one 
side to the other with three or four coats of smooth size, 
this paste is spread on by means of a knife, and all the 
holes come to be filled up by the hand of the artist. That 
done, he gives it one or two more coats of soft size and 
then the composition or priming. In order to paint on 
it afterwards he follows the same method as has been 
described above for the other processes. Because painting 
on canvas has seemed easy and convenient it has been 
adopted not only for small pictures that can be carried 
about, but also for altar pieces and other important com- 
positions, such as are seen in the halls of the palace of 
San Marco at Venice,^ and elsewhere. Consequently, 
where the panels are not sufficiently large they are replaced 
by canvases on account of the size and convenience of the 

placed at one time on the ' macina ' or stone for grinding colours. Berger 
suggests 'handfuls' as a translation, but the amount would be small, as for 
careful grinding only one or two lumps of the pigment would be dealt with 
at one time. 

'The Ducal Palace, that adjoins S. Marco, is probably the building in 
Vasari's mind. The Library of S. Marco, Sansovino's masterpiece, might also 
be meant, as this was called sometimes the Palace of S. Marco. We must 
remember B&wev^f that, as noticed before, ante, p. 56, this building, at the 
time of Vasari's visit to Venice, was still unfinished. 

'' On panels and canvases as used at Venice Vasari has an interesting note 
at the beginning of his Life of Jacopo Bellini (Opere, III, 152). This was a 
subject that would at once appeal to his practical mind when he visited the 
city. He notices incidentally that the usual woods for panels were ' oppio ' 
acer campestris, maple ; or ' gattice,' the populus alba of Horace, but that the 
Venetians used only fir from the Alps. (Cennini, c. 113, recommends poplar 
or lime or willow. Pliny, Hist. Nat., xvi, 187, speaks of larch and box, and 
Ilg says that northern painters generally used oak.) The Venetian preference 
for canvas, Vasari says, was due to the facts that it did not split nor harbour 
worms, was portable, and could be obtained of the size desired ; this last he 
notes too in our text. Berger {Beitrage, iv, 29), gives the meaning of ' Gross- 
artigkeit' to the word 'grandezza' used above by Vasari, but of course it 
only means material size, not ' grandeur ' in an aesthetic sense. 


Of painting in Oil on Stone, and what stones are good for the 


§ 89. Oil painting on Stone. 

The courage of our pictorial artists has gone on increasing, 
so that colouring in oil, besides the use made of it on the 
wall, can when they desire be employed also for painting 
on stones. Of these last they have found a suitable kind 
on the sea-coast of Genoa, in those flagstones we have 
spoken of in connection with Architecture,^ which are very 
well fitted for this purpose, for the reason that they are 
compact and of fine grain, and take an even polish. In 
modern times an almost unlimited number of artists have 
painted on these slabs and have found the true method 
of working upon them. Later they have tried the finer 
stones, such as marble breccias, serpentines, porphyries 
and the like, which being smooth and polished admit of 
the colour attaching itself to them. But in truth when 
the stone is rough and dry it imbibes and takes the boiled 
oil and the colour much better; as is the case with some 
kinds of soft peperino, which, when they are worked over 
the surface with an iron tool and are not rubbed down with 
sand or a piece of hearth stone, can be brought to a 
smooth surface with the same mixture that I spoke of in 
connection with the rough cast and that heated trowel. 
Therefore it is not necessary to begin by spreading size 
on all these stones, but only a coat of priming of oil 

> See 'Introduction' to Architecture, § 13, ante, p. 54. The stone is a 
species of slate. Slate is suitable for painting on. See Church's Chemistry 
of Paints and Painting, 1890, p. 21. 


colour, that is, the composition already referred to, and 
when this is dry the work may be begun at will. 

He who desires to paint a picture in oil on stone can 
take some of those Genoese flagstones and have them cut 
square and fixed in the wall with clamps over a layer of 
stucco, spreading the composition well over the joinings 
so as to make a flat surface of the size the artist needs. 
This is the true way of bringing such works to a finished 
state, and when completed, ornaments can be added of 
fine stones, breccias, and other marbles. These, provided 
they are worked with diligence and care, endure for ever. 
They may or may not be varnished, just as you like, 
because the stone does not suck up, that is, absorb as 
much as does the panel or canvas, and it is impervious 
to worms, which cannot be said for wooden panels.^ 

" Greek paintings on marble panels have come down to us from various 
periods of ancient art. Some early Attic specimens on tombstones are in the 
museums of Athens, and at Herculaneum there was found an interesting 
painting on marble of a group of Greek heroines playing at knuckle bones. 
A much earlier slab with a figure of a warrior is in the Acropolis Museum 
at Athens. 


Of Painting on the wall in Monochrome with various earths : how 
objects in bronze are imitated : and of groups for Triumphal Arches 
or festal structures, done with powdered earths mixed with size, 
which process is called Gouache and Tempera. 

§ 90, Imitative Paintings for Decorations. 
Monochromes according to the painters are a kind of 

picture that has a Hngpr rplatinn tn Hrawing than tO WOrlj 

in colour because it has been de rived from copying marb le 
statiipq and fissures in bronze an d various sorts of stone; 
and artists have been accustomed to d ecorate in mon o- 
c hrome the facades of palaces and houses, giving thes e 
a semblance other than the realitv . ^r\r\ making thpm 
appear to be built of marble or stone, with the decorative 
gro ups actually carved in relief ; or indeed they may 
i mitate particular sorts of marble , and porphyry, serpen- 
tine, and red and grey granite or other stones, or bronze, 
according to their taste, arranging them in many divisions; 
and this style is much in use now-a-days for the fronts 
of houses and palaces in Rome and throughout Italy. 

These paintings are executed in two ways, first, in fresco 
which is the true way ; secondly, on canv as to adorn 
arches erected on the occasion of the entrance of princes 
into the city, and of processions, or in the apparatus for 
f^tes and plays, since on such structures they produce a 
very beautiful effect. We shall first treat of the manner 
of working these in fresco, and then speak of the other 
method. In the first kind the backgrounds are laid in with 
potters' clay, and with this is mixed powdered charcoal or 
other black for the darker shadows, and white of travertine. 


There are many gradations from light to dark; the high 
lights are put in with pur e white , and the strongest 
shadows are finished with the deep est hla^ k. Such works 
must have boldness, intention, power, vivacity, and grace, 
and must be expressed with an artistic freedom and spirit 
and with nothing cramped about them, because they have 
to be seen and recognized from a distance.^ In this 
style too must bronze figures be imitated; they are 
sketched in on a background of yellow and red earth, the 
darker shades put in with blended tints of black, red, 
and yellow, the middle tints with pure yellow, and the 
high lights with yellow and white.^ And with these 
painters have composed decorations on the fa9ades, inter- 
mingling statues, which in this kind of work give a most 
graceful effect. 

Those pictures however intended for arches, plays, or 
festivals, are worked after the canvas has been prepared 
with clay, that is, with that pure earth (terretta) before 
mentioned which potters use, mixed with size,^ and the 

^ These chiaroscuri or monochromes are characteristic of the later Renais- 
sance. They may either be frankly decorative, and in this form obey the 
rules of all other pictorial enrichment ; or they may have an illusive intention, 
and be designed to produce the appearance on a flat wall of architectural 
members or sculptured or cast-bronze reliefs. In this case, when on monumental 
buildings and permanent, they are insincere and opposed to sound decorative 
principles, though on temporary structures they are quite in place. Vasari 
was a famous adept at the construction and adornment of such fabrics, which 
were in great demand for the numerous Florentine pageants and processions. 
See his letters, passim. 

^ There are examples of painted imitations of bronze in Michelangelo's 
frescoes on the vault of the Sistine. The medallions held by the pairs of 
decorative figures of youths on the cornice are painted to represent reliefs in 
this metal. Raphael's Stanze and Loggie also furnish instances, and there 
are good examples on the external fa9ade of the Palazzo Ricci at Rome. 

^ The clay or earth that Vasari speaks of forms the body of the ' distemper ' 
or 'gouache,' as it would be called respectively in Britain and in France, and 
takes the place of the ' whitening ' used in modern times. Baldinucci in his 
Vocabolario explains ' Terra di cava o Terretta ' as ' the earth (clay) with which 
vessels for the table are made, that mixed with pounded charcoal is used 
by painters for backgrounds and monochromes, and also for primings, and with 



back of the canvas must be moistened while the artist is 
painting on it, that the darks and lights of his work may 
unite better with the ground of clay.* It is customary to 
mix the blacks with a little tempera ;^ white leads are used 
for the white, and red lead to simulate relief in things 
that appear to be of bronze, and Naples yellow (giallino) 
to put in the high lights over the red lead, and for the 
backgrounds and the darks the same red and yellow earths 
and the same blacks that I spoke of in connection with 
fresco work; these make the half tints and shadows. The 
painter uses also other different pigments to shade other 
kinds of monochromes, such as umber to which is added 
terra verte and yellow ochre and white; in the same way 
is used black earth, which is another sort of terra verte 
and the dark colour that is called ' verdaccio.^ 

a tempera of size for the canvases with which are painted triumphal arches, 
perspectives, and the like.' It is of very fine and even texture, and Baldinucci 
says it was found near St Peter's at Rome, and also in great quantity at 
Monte Spertoli, thirteen miles from Florence. 

* This process of wetting the back of the canvas is to be noted. The chief 
inconvenience of the kind of work here spoken of is that it dries very quickly, 
and dries moreover very much lighter than when the work is wet. Hence it 
is an advantage to keep the ground wet as long as possible till the tints are 
properly fused, so that all may dry together. Wetting the back of the canvas 
secures this end. The technique that Vasari is describing is the same as that 
of the modern theatrical scene-painter, and would be called 'distemper 
painting.' The colours are mixed with whitening, or finely-ground chalk, 
and tempered with size. The whitening makes them opaque and gives them 
' body,' but is also the cause of their drying light. F. Lloyds, in his Practical 
Guide to Scene Painting and Painting in Distemper, Lond. 1879, says (p. 42) 
' In the study of the art of distemper painting, a source of considerable 
embarrassment to the inexperienced eye is that the colours when wet present 
such a different appearance from what they do when dry.' 

' Does Vasari mean by ' tempera ' yolk of egg ? It has this sense with 
him sometimes, as in the heading of chapter vi. 

' Cennini in his 67th chapter gives directions for preparing the mixed colour 
he calls verdacdo. It was a compound of white, dark ochre, black and red. 


Of the Sgraffiti for house decoration which withstand water ; that which 
is used in their production ; and how Grotesques are worked on 
the wall. 

§ 91. Sgraffito-work. 

Painters have another sort of picture which is drawing 
and painting both together. This is called sgraffito; it 
serves only for ornament on the fa9ades of houses and 
palaces, and is very quickly executed, while it perfectly 
resists the action of water, because all the outlines, instead 
of being drawn with charcoal or other similar material, 
are etched by the hand of the painter with an iron tool. 
The work is done in this manner. They take lime 
mixed with sand in the usual fashion and tinge it by 
means of burnt straw to a tint of a medium colour inclining 
to pearl grey, a little more towards the dark than the 
middle tint, and with this they plaster the fagade. That 
done and the fafade smoothed, they give it a coat of white 
all over with the white lime of travertine, and then dust 
over the (perforated) cartoons, or else draw directly that 
which they wish to execute. Afterwards pressing upon 
it with an iron stylus they trace the contours and draw 
lines on the cement, which, because there is a black 
substance underneath, shows all the scratches of the tool 
as marks of drawing.^ 

'The principle of sgraffito work, that is the scratching through a thin 
superimposed coat to hring to view an under layer of a different colour, seems 
to have been established first in pottery making, and in this connection the 
Italians called it 'Sgraffiato.' The adoption of the process for the decoration 
of surfaces of plaster or cement was an innovation of the Renaissance, and 


It is customary too to scrape away the white in the 
backgrounds, and then to prepare a water colour tint, 
darkish and very watery, and with that reinforce the darks, 
as one would do on paper ; this seen at a distance is most 
effective. But if there be grotesques or leafage in the 
design, cast shadows are painted on the background by 
means of that water colour. This is the work that the 
painters have called sgraffito, on account of its being 
scratched by the iron instrument. 

§ 92. Grotesques, or Fanciful Devices, painted or modelled 

on Walls.^ 

There remains to us now to speak of the grotesques 
done on the wall. For those, then, that go on a white 
ground, when the background is not of stucco (white 
plaster), because the ordinary lime plastering is not white, 
therefore a thin coat of white is laid over ; and that done the 
cartoons are powdered and the work executed in fresco 

Vasari appears to have been the first writer who gives a recipe for it. 
According to his account in the Lives, it was a friend of Morto da Feltro, 
the Florentine Andrea di Cosimo, who first started the work, and Vasari 
describes the process he employed in phrases that correspond with the wording 
of the present chapter {Opere, ed. Milanesi, V, 207). A modern expert describes 
the process as follows : ' A wall is covered with a layer of tinted plaster, 
and on this is superimposed a thin coating of white plaster. The outer coat 
is scratched through, and the colour behind it is revealed. Then all the white 
surface outside the design is cut away, and a cameo-like effect given to the 
design. This is the art of Sgraffito as known to the Italian Renaissance' 
(Transactions, R.I.B.A., 1889, p. 125). The process dropped out of use 
after a while, but was revived in Germany in the middle of the nineteenth 
century, mainly through the agency of the architect Gottfried Semper, the 
author of Der Stil. It is sometimes used in our own country both on 
monumental and on domestic buildings, and as it is simple and cheap and 
permanent it is well fitted for modern use in our climate. The back of the 
Science School in Exhibition Road, S. Kensington, was covered with sgraffiti 
by the pupils of the late F. W. Moody about 1872. They would be the 
better now for a cleansing with the modern steam-blast. 

2 See the Notes on 'Enriched Fa9ades,' and 'Stucco "Grotesques,"' at the 
close of the ' Introduction ' to Painting, postea, pp. 298, 299. 































































with opaque colours,^ but these will never have the charm 
of those worked directly upon the stucco. In this style 
there may be grotesques both coarse and fine, and these 
are done in the same way as the figures in fresco or on 
the dry wall. 

' This passage presents some difficulty. It runs ' Dunque, quelle che vanno 
in campo bianco, non ci essendo il campo di stucco per non essere bianca la 
calce, si dk per tutto sottiltnente il campo di bianco.' Vasari seems to have 
in his mind the difference between ordinary plaster made, as he has just 
described, of Mime mixed with sand in the ordinary fashion,' which would 
not be white, and what he calls 'stucco,' by which term is probably meant 
the finer plasten made of white lime from travertine and marble dust. 
Ordinary plaster has accordingly to be coated with white before the work 


How Grotesques are worked on the Stucco. 

The grotesque is a kind of free and humorous picture 
produced by the ancients for the decoration of vacant 
spaces in some position where only things placed high 
up are suitable. For this purpose they fashioned monsters 
deformed by a freak of nature or by the whim and fancy 
of the workers, who in these grotesque pictures make 
things outside of any rule, attaching to the finest thread 
a weight that it cannot support, to a horse legs of leaves, 
to a man the legs of a crane, and similar follies and 
nonsense without end.^ He whose imagination ran the 
most oddly, was held to be the most able. Afterwards 
the grotesques were reduced to rule and for friezes and 
compartments had a most admirable effect. Similar works 
in stucco were mingled with the painting. So generally 
was this usage adopted that in Rome and in every place 
where the Romans settled there is some vestige of it still 
preserved. And truly, when touched with gold and 
modelled in stucco such works are gay and delightful to 

They are executed in four different ways.^ One is to 
work in stucco alone : another to make only the ornaments 

'Examples of this whimsical style of decoration are abundant in the 
Pompeian wall paintings, and the mind of Vitruvius was much exercised 
about their frivolity and want of meaning (De Architectura, VII, v). 

"Vasari is not very clear in his account of these methods of work, but it is 
enough to know that both by the ancients, and at the time of the 
Renaissance, colour was used largely in connection with these reliefs, and the 
combination could of course take several forms. In the loggia of the Villa 


of stucco and paint groups in the spaces thus formed 
and grotesques on the friezes : the third to make the figures 
partly in stucco, and partly painted in black and white so 
as to imitate cameos and other stones. Many examples 
of this kind of grotesque and stucco work have been, and 
still are seen, done by the moderns, who with consummate 
grace and beauty have ornamented the most notable build- 
ings of all Italy, so that the ancients are left far behind. 
Finally the last method is to work upon stucco with water 
colour, leaving the stucco itself for the lights, and shading 
the rest with various colours. Of all these kinds of work, 
all of which offer a good resistance to time, antique 
examples are seen in numberless places in Rome, and at 
Pozzuoli near to Naples. This last sort can also be 
excellently worked in fresco with opaque colours, leaving 
the stucco white for the background.^ And truly all these 
works possess wonderful beauty and grace. Among them 
are introduced landscape views, which much enliven them, 
as do also little coloured compositions of figures on a 
small scale. There are to-day many masters in Italy who 
make this sort of work their profession, and really excel 
in it. 

Farnesina, where Raphael worked with his assistants, there are painted panels 
in fresco framed in mouldings of stucco, modelled plaster figures in white against 
a coloured ground, coloured stuccos against coloured fields, and tinted bands 
separating the framed plaster medallions. The same kind of work is found in 
the Loggie of the Vatican, the Doria Palace at Genoa, and other localities 
innumerable. Plate XII shows a characteristic section of the decoration of the 
Vatican Loggie. 

'As in the work described at the close of ch. xil (the beginning of the 
present section). 


Of the manner of applying Gold on a Bolus,* or with a Mordant,^ 
and other methods. 

§ 93, Methods of Gilding. 

It was truly a most beautiful secret and an ingenious 
investigation — that discovery of the method of beating gold 
into such thin leaves, that for every thousand pieces beaten 
to the size of the eighth of a braccio in every direction, 
the cost, counting the labour and the gold, was not more 
than the value of six scudi.^ Nor was it in any way less 
ingenious to discover the method of spreading the gold 
over the gesso in such a manner that the wood and other 
material hidden beneath it should appear a mass of gold. 

*The word 'bolus' is derived from the Greek pSSos, a lump or clod, and 
means, according to Murray's Dictionary, a pill, or a small rounded mass of 
any substance, and also a kind of reddish clay or earth, used medically for its 
astringent properties, that was brought from . Armenia, and called by the 
pharmacologist 'bole armeniac' Its use in the arts is due to its unctuous 
character, which made gold adhere to it. See below. In mediaeval illumina- 
tions a 'bolus' or small lump of a properly prepared gesso is generally laid 
on the parchment where gold is to come, so that the raised surface may give 
the polished metal more effect. The gold over the bolus was always burnished. 
It may be noticed that our word 'size' is really 'assise,' the bed or layer 
under gilding, for which a gluey substance was suitable. 

■•"A 'mordant' as the word implies is some corrosive liquid, such as is used 
by dyers to bite into the fabric and carry in with it the colouring matter. The 
word is also employed, as in this passage, for a glutinous size used as ground 
for gilding, such as the modern decorator's 'gold-size.' Gold laid in this way 
has a ' mat ' surface. 

*The scudo was worth in Tuscany about four-and-sixpence of our money. 
In Florence its value was a little greater. 













This is how it is done. The wood is covered with the 
thinnest gesso lineaded with size weak rather than strong, 
and coarser gesso is laid on in several coats according 
as the wood has been well or badly prepared. When the 
gesso is scraped and smoothed, white of egg beaten care- 
fully in water is mixed with Armenian bole, which has 
been reduced with water to the finest paste. The first 
coat of this is made watery, I mean to say liquid and 
clear, and the next thicker. This is laid on to the panel 
at least three times, until it takes it well all over, then 
with a brush the worker gradually wets with pure water 
the parts where the Armenian bole has been applied and 
there he puts on the gold leaf, which quickly sticks to 
that soft substance ; * and when partially but not entirely 
dry he burnishes it with a dog's tooth or the tooth of a 
wolf in order to make it become lustrous and beautiful.^ 

Gilding is effected in another fashion also, ' with a 
mordant,' as it is said.^ This is used for every sort of 
material — stone, wood, canvas, metals of all kinds, cloth, 
and leather; and is not burnished as is the former. The 
mordant, which is the lye that holds the gold, is made 
of various sorts of drying oil pigments and of oil boiled 
with the varnish in it. It is laid upon the wood which 

*See Note I, ante, p. 248. 

'For the various processes of preparing a panel for painting and for gilding 
reference must be made to Cennini's Trattato, where many technical matters 
are elucidated that Vasari passes over almost without notice. It must be 
remembered that Cennini writes as a tempera painter, while in Vasari's time 
these elaborate processes were falling out of use. In his chapters 115-119, 
Cennini gives recipes for what he calls 'gesso grosso' and 'gesso sottile.' 
They are made of the same materials, ' volterrano,' or plaster from Volterra, 
which is a sulphate of lime corresponding to our 'plaster of Paris,' and size 
made from parchment shreds ; but the plaster for ' gesso sottile ' is more 
finely prepared. The plaster, produced by calcining gypsum, is first thoroughly 
slaked by being drenched with water till it loses all tendency to ' set,' and 
is then as a powder or paste mixed with the heated size. The size makes 
the composition dry quite hard, and Cennini speaks of its having a surface 
like ivory. 

'See Note 2, ante, p. 248. 


has first received two coats of size. And after the mordant 
is so applied, not when it is fresh, but half dry, the gold 
leaf is laid upon it. The same can be done also with 
gum-ammoniac, when there is hurry, provided that the 
stuff is good. This is used more to adorn saddles and 
make arabesques and other ornaments than for anything 
else. Sometimes also gold leaves are ground in a glass 
cup with a little honey and gum ^ and made use of by 
miniature-painters and many others who, with the brush, 
delight to draw outlines and put very delicate lights into 
pictures. And all these are most valuable secrets; but 
because they are very numerous one does not take much 
account of them. 

^This we should call 'shell gold.' It is in common use. The employment 
of the shell represents a very ancient tradition, for shells were the usual receptacles 
for pigments in late classical and Early Christian times. 

Of Glass Mosaic and how it is recognized as good and praiseworthy. 

§ 94. Glass Mosaics. 

We have spoken sufficiently above, in the sixth chapter 
on Architecture, of the nature of mosaic and how it is 
made, and, adding here just so much as really refers to 
pictures, let us say that very great mastery is needed to 
arrange the pieces so harmoniously that the mosaic appears 
at a distance a genuine and beautiful picture, seeing that 
this kind of work demands great experience and judgement 
and a profound knowledge of the art of design. For if 
any one in his designs obscure the mosaic with too great 
wealth and abundance of figures in the groups, and with 
multiplying over-much the pieces, he will bring it all into 
confusion. Therefore the design of the cartoons made 
for mosaic must be open, broad, easy, clear, and carried 
out with excellence and in admirable style. ^ The artist 
who understands the force of shadows in the design and of 
giving few lights and many darks, leaving in these certain 
vacant spaces or fields, he above all others will make his 
mosaic beautiful and well arranged. Mosaic to be praised 
must have clearness in itself, with a certain harmonious 
obscurity towards the shadows, and must be executed far 
from the eye with the greatest discretion that it may be 

'This is excellent advice. The architectural character of mosaic decoration, 
the distance of the work from the eye, the nature of the technique and 
material, all invite to a broad and simple treatment, such as we find in the 
best mosaics at Ravenna and Rome. Modern work is often too elaborate and 
too minute in detail. 


esteemed painting and not inlaid work.^ Therefore the 
mosaics that have these qualities, are good and will be 
praised by everyone; and it is certain that mosaic is the 
most durable picture that exists. Other painting fades 
through time, but mosaic continually brightens with age; 
other painting fails and wastes away, while mosaic on 
account of its long life may almost be called eternal.^ 
For this reason we perceive in it not only the perfection 
of the old masters, but also of the ancients * — by means 
of those examples from their epoch that we recognize as 
such to-day, as in the Temple of Bacchus at Sant' Agnese 
outside of Rome, where all that is there executed is 
exceedingly well done.^ At Ravenna also there is some 
very beautiful old mosaic in many places, and at Venice 
in San Marco, at Pisa in the Duomo, and at Florence in 
the tribune of San Giovanni,^ but the most beautiful of 

"A modern would say that if the work be really inlaid, it should look like 
inlaid work, and not like something else. In the Italy of Vasari's day 
however, as we have seen, painting had so thoroughly got the upper hand, 
that to ape the nobler art would seem a legitimate ambition for the mosaicist. 

'The durability of mosaic depends on the cement in which the cubes are 
embedded and on the care taken in their setting. The pieces themselves are 
indestructible but they will sometimes drop out from the wall. Hence 
extensive restorations have been carried out on the Early Christian mosaics 
at Ravenna and other places. 

*In his Proemio delle Vite (Opere, I, 242) Vasari explains what he means 
by the words 'antique' and 'old.' The former refers to the so-called 
'classical' epoch before Constantine ; the latter to the Early Christian and 
early mediaeval period, prior to the Italian revival of the thirteenth century. 

" At S. Costanza (see Note 5, ante, p. 27) on the vault of the aisle there are 
decorative mosaics of the time of Constantine showing vine scrolls issuing out 
of vases, and classical genii gathering the grapes. Birds are introduced among 
the tendrils. 

'The mosaics at Ravenna and S. Marco, Venice, are well known. In the 
Duomo at Pisa, in the apse, there still remains the Saviour in Glory between 
the Madonna and John the Baptist, designed by a certain Cimabue, and the 
only existing work which modern criticism would accept as from the hand of 
the traditional father of Florentine painting. It may however have been 
another painter nicknamed 'Cimabue,' who worked at Pisa early in the 
fourteenth century. The mosaics of the Tribune of the Baptistry at Florence 
were executed in 1225 by Jacobus, a monk of the Franciscan Order, and this 
fact is attested by an inscription in mosaic which forms part of the work. 


all is that of Giotto in the main aisle of the porch at 
St. Peter's at Rome ' — truly a miraculous thing in that 
kind of work — and among the moderns there is that of 
Domenico Ghirlandaio above the door outside Santa Maria 
del Fiore that leads to the Annunziata.^ 

§ 95. The Preparation of the Mosaic Cubes, 

The pieces for mosaic are prepared in the following 
manner. When the glass furnaces are ready and the pans 
full of glass, the workers go round giving to every pan 
its own colour, starting from a true white which contains 
body and is not transparent, and carefully proceeding to 
the darker tints by gradual transitions, in the same manner 
as they make the mixtures of colours for ordinary paint- 
ing. Afterwards when the glass is fused and in a fit state, 
and the mixtures both light and dark and of every tint 
are prepared, they ladle out the hot glass with certain long 
iron spoons and spread it on a flat piece of marble, then 
with another piece of marble press it evenly, making 
round discs that come equally flat and remain the third 
part of the breadth of a finger in thickness. Then some 
cut little square pieces with an iron tool called dog's 
mouth, and others break it with a hot iron tool, cracking 
it as they wish.^ The same pieces if too long are cut 

'This mosaic, called the 'Navicella,' represents the Gospel ship manned by 
Christ and the disciples, with Peter struggling in the waves. It has been so 
much restored that little if any of Giotto's work remains in it. It was replaced 
in the seventeenth century, after some wanderings, in the porch of the 
present Basilica, but Vasari saw it of course in the porch of the old, or 
Constantinian, church, the entrance end of which was still standing in his day. 

"This mosaic was executed at the end of the fifteenth century by Domenico 
Ghirlandajo and his brother over the northern door of the nave of the 
cathedral of Florence. It is still in situ but has been greatly restored. The 
date 1490 is introduced in the composition. 

° This corresponds with modern practice. The following is from a paper by 
Mr. James C. Powell, who, as practical worker in glass, has been engaged 
with Sir W. B. Richmond in the decoration in mosaic of the vaults of St 


with emery and so are all the pieces of glass that have 
need of it. They are then put into boxes and kept 
arranged as is done with the pigments for fresco work, 
which are kept separately in various little pots so that 
the mixtures of the lighter and the darker tints may be 
ready at hand for working. 

There is another sort of glass covered with gold that 
is used for the background and for the lights of the 
draperies.^" When the glass is to be gilded, the workers 
take the glass disc which they have made, and damp it 
over with gum-water, and then apply the gold-leaf; this 
done they put this gold-covered disc on an iron shovel 

Paul's. ' The glass which is rendered opaque by the addition of oxide of tin, 
is coloured as required by one of the metallic oxides ; this is melted in crucibles 
placed in the furnace, and when sufficiently fused is ladled out in small quantities 
on to a metal table, and pressed into circular cakes about eight inches in 
diameter and from three-eighths to half an inch in thickness ; these are then 
cooled gradually in a kiln, and when cold are ready for cracking up into 
tesserae, which can be further subdivided as the mosaicist requires. It is 
the fractured surface that is used in mosaic generally, as that has a pleasanter 
surface and a. greater richness of colour ; the thickness of the cake, therefore, 
regulates the limit of the size of the tesserae, and the fractured surface gives 
that roughness of texture which is so valuable from an artistic point of view.' 
[^Transactions, R.I.B.A., 1893-4, P- 249). 

'" This is a point attended to by the best modern workers in mosaic. 
Where gold backgrounds are used it is advisable to carry the gold into the 
figures by using it as Vasari suggests for the lights on the draperies. If this 
were not done the figures would be liable to tell as dull masses against the 
more brilliant ground. The use of gold backgrounds is specially Byzantine. 
The earlier mosaics at Rome and at Ravenna have backgrounds of blue 
generally of a dark shade, which is particularly fine at Ss. Cosma e Damiano 
at Rome and in the tomb of Galla Placidia at Ravenna. The mosaics at S. 
Sophia at Constantinople of the sixth century had gold backgrounds, and this 
is the case also with all the later examples in Italy from the ninth and tenth 
centuries onwards. The finest displays of these varied fields of gold, now 
deep now lustrous of hue, are to be seen in S. Sophia, S. Marco at Venice, 
and the Cappella Palatina at Palermo. 

Vasari's account of the fabrication of the gilded tesserae required for this 
part of the work is quite clear and agrees with modern practice. The gold 
leaf is hermetically sealed between two sheets of glass by the fusion of a thin 
film over it. The technique of the ' fondi d' oro,' or glass vessels adorned 
with designs in gold, found in the Roman catacombs, was of the same nature. 


and that in the mouth of the furnace, first covering with 
a thin piece of glass all the glass disc that they had coated 
with gold. These coverings are made either of glass 
bubbles or of broken bottles so that one piece covers the 
whole disc, and it is then held in the furnace till it becomes 
almost red, and quickly drawn out, when the gold at once 
becomes admirably set so as to be imprinted in the glass 
and remain there. This is impervious to water and resists 
every attack, and afterwards the disc is cut and disposed 
as the other coloured pieces described above. 

§ 96. The Fixing of the Mosaic Cubes. 

In order to fix the mosaic in the wall, the custom is to 
make a coloured cartoon, though some make it without 
colour, and to trace or mark the cartoon bit by bit on 
the stucco. ^ ^ and then to proceed to arrange the pieces 

^^ It has been noticed at some places, as at Torcello, that before the cubes 
were laid in the soft cement the whole design was washed in in colour on the 
surface of the cement. This facilitated correct setting and avoided any 
appearance of white cement squeezed up in the interstices between the cubes. 
On this particular feature of the mosaic technique Berge r has founded an 
ingenious theory of the origin of painting in fresco. It is his thesis, in his 
Beitr'dge zur Entwickhtngs-Geschichte der Maltechnik, I, MUnchen, 1904, that 
the ancients did not employ the fresco process, but that this was evolved 
in early mediaeval days out of the mosaic technique as seen, e.g., at Torcello. 
''xhe stucco, that Vasari describes, must be put on portion by portion, for it 
only keeps soft two or three days, and can only be used for setting the cubes 
while in a moist state. Now, Berger contends, if the design for the mosaic 
be painted in colours on the wet stucco, and the whole allowed to dry, without 
any use of the mosaic cubes, we should have a painting in fresco, and he 
imagines that fresco painting began in this way. Unfortunately for the theory, 
(i), the testimony of Vitruvius and Pliny is absolutely decisive in favour of 
the knowledge in antiquity of the fresco technique, and, (2), the use of the 
coloured painting on the stucco as a guide for the setting of the cubes was 
not normal, and can never have been used so freely as to give rise to a new 
technique of painting. As a fact, this colouring of the stucco is objected to by 
the best modern workers on aesthetic grounds, for they point out that the lines 
of grey cement between the coloured cubes answer to the lead lines in the 
stained glass window, and should be reckoned with by the designer as part of 
his artistic effect. No doubt the older mosaicists, like the workers in stained 
glass, instinctively apprehended this, and had no desire for the coloured cement. 


as many as are needed to fill in the mosaic work. The 
stucco, when put on in a thick coat over the wall, remains 
available two days and sometimes four, according to. the 
kind of weather. It is made of travertine, lime,^^ pounded 
brick, gum-tragacanth and white of egg, and once made 
it is kept moist with damp cloths. Thus then, bit by bit, 
they cut the cartoons for the wall, and trace the design 
on the stucco; afterwards with certain little tongs, they 
pick up the bits of vitreous paste and fit them together 
in the stucco, and give lights to the lights, middle tints 
to the middle tints and darks to the darks, imitating 
minutely the shadows, the lights, and the half tints as 
they are in the cartoons. ^^ Thus, working with diligence 
they gradually bring it all to perfection, and he who best 

'^ One would expect here ' lime of travertine,' for what Vasari must mean 
is lime prepared by burning this stone, which he recommends elsewhere, e.g. 
' Architettura, ' cap. iv, and 'Scultura,' cap. vi (calce di trevertino). The 
cement here given is a lime cement mixed with water. A sort of putty 
mixed with boiled oil is also employed, and is said to have been introduced 
by Girolamo Muziano of Brescia, a contemporary of Vasari. Each mosaic 
worker seems to have his own special recipe for this compound. 

'^ The process described by Vasari of building up the mosaic in situ, tessera 
by tessera, according to the design pounced portion by portion on the soft 
cement, is the most direct and by far the most artistic, and was employed 
for all the fine mosaics of olden time. In modern days labour-saving appli- 
ances have been tried, though it is satisfactory to know that they are all again 
discarded in the,best work of to-day, such as that of Sir W. B. Richmond 
in St. Paul's^''^ne of the methods referred to, which can be carried out in 
the studio, is to take a reversed tracing of the design, covered with gum, and 
place the cubes face downwards upon it according to the colour scheme. 
When they are all in position, as far as can be judged when working from 
the back, a coating of cement is laid over them and they are thus fixed in 
their places. The whole sheet is then lifted up and cemented in its proper 
place on the wall, the drawing to which the faces of the cubes are gummed 
being afterwards removed by wetting. A better plan than this is called by 
the Italians ' Mosaico a rivoltatura.' For this process the tesserae are laid, 
face upwards, in a bed of pozzolana, slightly damp, which forms a temporary 
joint between the adjacent cubes. Coarse canvas is pasted over the face of the 
work ; it is lifted up, and the pozzolana brushed out of the interstices. The 
whole is then applied to the wall surface and pressed into the cement with 
which this has been coated. When the cement has set the canvas is removed 
from the face. 


succeeds in joining it so that it comes out even and smooth, 
is most worthy of praise and is more esteemed than the 
others. Some are so clever in working mosaic that they 
make it appear as if painted in fresco. So firmly does 
the glass harden into the stucco, after the latter has set, 
that this mosaic lasts for ever — as is testified by the antique 
mosaics, which are in Rome, and those also which are 
of the older (modern) times. In both methods of working 
the moderns of our days have done marvellous things. 


Concerning the Compositions and Figures made in Inlaid Work on 
Pavements in imitation of objects in monochrome. 

§ 97. Pavements in Marble Mosaic and Monochrome. 

To the mosaic in small pieces our modern masters have 
added another kind of mosaic, that of marbles fitted 
to g^ether to count erfei t paiated groiip.s in monochrome . 
This art takes its origin from the very ardent desire that 
there should remain in the world to those who come after, 
even if other kinds of painting were to be destroyed, a 
light that may k eep alive the jnemory:^of modern painters . 
Hence they have produced with wondrous skill very large 
compositions that can be placed not only on the pavemen ts, 
where one walks, but also on the face of walls and palace s, 
with such beautiful and marvellous art that there can be 
no danger lest time should waste away the design of those 
who excel in this profession. Examples of these works 
can be seen in the Duomo at Siena begun first by Duccio 
oL-Siena, then added to by Domenico Beccafumi, and 
continued by others even to our own day.^ 

'The Duomo of Siena is a veritable museum of floor decorations in incised 
outlines and in black and white, in the various processes described by Vasari. 
There is a good notice of them in Labarte, Histoire des Arts Industriek. 
None of the work is as early as the time of Duccio, but Beccafiimi executed 
a large amount of it. See the Life of that artist by Vasari. 
f It is worthy of notice that Dante had something of this kind in his thoughts, 
when in the 12th Canto of the Purgatorio he describes the figure designs on the 
ground of the first circle of Purgatory. 
' So saw I there . . . 

. . . with figures covered 
Whate'er of pathway from the mount projects. 


This art possesses so much that is good, new, and 
durable, that for pictorial work made up of black and 
white greater excellence and beauty can hardly be desired. 
It is composed of three sorts nf marh lft, which come from 
the Carrara mountains;'^ one of these is the finest_piire 
white mar ble; another is not white but inclines to a livid 
tint, w hich furnishes a mid dle shade ; and the thi rd is g rey 
marble that inclines towards a silvery hue, and this serves 
for dark. When the artist wishes to compose a figure 
from these marbles he first prepares a cartoon in light and 
s hade with the sa me tints, a nd that done, following the 
outlines of those medium and dark and pale tints, he 
fUs-logether with great care in their proper places first 
of all in the middle, the light of that pure white marble, 
and then the half tones and the darks beside them, accord- 
in g to the actual outlines that the artist has drawn in the 
c artoon . When all thepieces of marble, the light pieces 
as well as the darks and half tints, are j oined together 
and are lai d quite fiat, the artist who has prepared the 
cartoon takes a fine brush dipped in moist black , and, with 
all the work fitted together before him on the ground, 
traces in l ines the contours and where the shadows come, 
in the same manner in which one would prepare an out- 
lined drawing for monochrome. That done the carver 
proceeds to cut in with chisels all those lines and contours 

O Niobe ! with what afflicted eyes 

Thee I beheld upon the pathway traced, 

Between thy seven and seven children slain ! 
O Saul ! how fallen upon thy proper sword 

Didst thou appear there lifeless in Gilboa 

That felt thereafter neither rain nor dew ! 

Whoe'er of pencil master was or stile, 

That could portray the shades and traits which there 
Would cause each subtle genius to admire? 
Dead seemed the dead, the living seemed alive ; 
Better than I saw not who saw the truth, 
All that I trod upon while bowed I went.' 

Longfellow's Translation. 
^See Note on 'Tuscan Marble Quarries,' ante, p. 119. 


that the painter has made, and he ^Qs^jlims-CMi all that 
part which the brush has mark ed with bla ck. Having 
finished this, the pi eces are bj nlElD-XUi- rhelUrbit by bit , 
and then with a mixture of boiled WadL.Silcli,--QJ^-asptiak, 
or hlark eartJT^aUjheJi ollows which the chiseL has_made 
are filledTup; Whe iTthe" material is cold_ _and has set, 
the'worker proceeds to remove an d rub away the proje ctijig 
parts with pieces of soft stone , and to smooth and polish 
witih sand, bricks, and water, till all that remains is 
brought to a true surface, that is, the marble itself and the 
substance put in to fill up the hollows. When that is done 
t he work remain s in aspect e xacdy like a flat^pjcturgju and 
possesses great force combined with art a nd masterly 
skill. This kind of work has come much into use on 
account of its beauty. 

§ 98. Pavements in Variegated Tiles. 

Hence it is that the pavements of many apartments in 
our day are made of variegated bricks, one portion of wjiitg 
clay , that is of clay that draws towards a b luish^sbaide when 
it is fresh and when bak ed becomes whit£ . and the other 
por tion ot the ordinary earth torrnaking bricks_ which 
becomes red when baked. Of th ese two s o rt s are m ade 
p avements, inlaid in various designs and compartme nts, 
as the papal halls at R omfi-in the time of Raffaello d a 
Urbino bear testimony; ^ and now recently many apart- 
ments in the castle of Sant' Angelo where emblems of lilies 
of fitted pieces showing the arms of Pope Paolo, and many 
other devices, have been rnade witti tftese same bricks. 

° The Ap partamento Borgia still contains a good display of these variegated 
tiles ; the original ones are however rather the worse for wear. In the Life of 
Rap hael. Vasari say s they wprp siippHprl hy tht- Hplla Rr.V.l-.iti nf •Rl^rfnrf.^ in the 
Castle of S. Angelo there is a collection of interesting specimens of the tiles 
Vasari goes on to mention. They are in cases in the Sala della Giustizia, and 
exhibit the devices of Alexander VI, Julius II, Leo X, Paul III, and other 
Popes. T he pavement of the Laurentian L ihrarv at Florence is laid with 
tilesshowing a ver y effective desi p jn of y ellow u pon red. Tliey are ascribed 


In Florence also there is the pavement of the library of 
San Lorenzo ordered to be made by Duke Cosimo. All 
have been executed with such great care that anything 
more beautiful in that sort of workmanship cannot be 
desired, and the point of departure for all these inlaid 
things was the first mosaic. 

§ 99. Pavements in Breccia Marble. 

To explain why no mention was made of some breccias 
recently discovered by Uiike—Coaimo while stones and 
marbles of all sorts were being spoken of — I may say 
that in the year 1 563 H is Excellency found in the moun- 
tains of Pielrptjantp , near to the village of Stazzema, a 
hill which extends for two miles, whose outeji_cnist_is 
of w hite marble excellent for statue s. T he under lay er 
is a red and yellowish breccia, a nd those farther down 
are greenish, black, red, and yellow with various other 
mixtures of colour; _a jl these marbles arp hard, and their 
nature is such that thp farther one penetrates inward s 
t he greater is their solidity. Up to the present time there 
can be seen quarried from thence columns of fifteen to 
twenty braccia; but these marbles are not yet put into use, 
because a road three miles in length is only now being 
constructed by order of his Excellency to make it possible 
to transport the marbles from the said quarries to the sea 
shore.* These breccias will, so far as one can see, be 
most suitable for pavements. 

* Was this the road from Seravezza seawards which Michelangelo had begun ? 
See Note on 'Tuscan Marble Quarries,' ante, p. iig. Specimens of these 
Stazzema breccias are shown as C, D, on the Frontispiece. 


Of Mosaic in wood, that is, of Tarsia ; and of the Compositions that 
are made in Tinted Woods, fitted together after the manner of 
a picture. 

§ loo. Inlays in Wood. 

How easy a thing it is to add some new discovery to the 
inventions of the past, is clearly shown to us, not only by 
the aforesaid fitted pavement, which without doubt comes 
from mosaic work, but also by these same tarsias and the 
figures of many different things, that closely resembling 
mosaic and painting have been made by our elder artists 
out of' little pieces of wood, variously coloured, fitted and 
joined together in panels of walnut. This is called by 
the moderns ' lavoiOjiLcaonnesso ' (inlaid work) alth ough 
to the elder artists it was tarsia . The best specimens of 
this work were to be found in Florence in the time of 
Filippo di Ser B runellesco and afterwards in that of 
Be nedetto _ da-MaLajiQx-. who, however, strangely enough 
judged tarsia a useless thing and completely abandoned 
it as will be told in his Life. He, like the others of past 
times, executed tarsia in black and white only, but Fra 
Giovanni of Verona who was very proficient in the art 
improved it greatly, giv ing various colours to the wo ods 
by means of dyes in ■boi ling water and of penetrating 
oiis*— in_oide.r to produce the light s and shado ws with 
these variously tinted woods, as in the art of painting, 
and skilfully putting in the high lights by means of the 


very white wood of the silio.^ This work b egan in the 
first instance with de signs in perspective , because the 
forms in these end with plane angles, and the pieces 
joined together showed the contours, and the work 
appeared all of one flat piece, though it was made up of 
more than a thousand. The ancients worked however in 
the same manner with in crustations of fj"" gfnni»g ; as is 
plainly seen in the p ortico of St Peter' s, where there is a 
cage with a bird and all the details of the wooden bars 
etc., on a ground of porphyry inlaid with other different 
stones.^ But, because w_ood is more pliant and muc h 
more amenable for this work, our m asters hav e b^en ab le 

t o make more ahimrlan t iigp r»f it. anH in thp way that 

best pleased them. F ormerly for making the shadow s 
thev used to scorch the wood w ith fire on one side, this 
imitated shade well ; hu t nthpr"; aft prw ardg havp used nil 
o f sulphur and corrosive sublimate and preparations o f 
artjpnjrj with whirh siih stanrps they have obtained th e 
hues that they desired, a s is seen in the work of Fra 
Da miano in San Domenico in Bologn a.^ And because 
such a line of work consists only in the choice of designs 
that may be adapted to it — those containing blocks of 
buildings and objects with rectangular outlines to which 
force and projection can be lent by means of light and 
shade — it has always been exercised by persons possessing 
more patience than skill in design. And thus it is that 
though many things have been produced in this line, such 
as representations of figures, fruit, and animals, some 
of which are in truth most life-like, yet since it is a work 
that ""OE hprnmpg hlarV pnH docs uot do more than 
counterfeit painting, being le ss than painting, and is also 
of short duration because of worms and fire, it is con- 

^ Lat. Evonymus Europaeus. The. only English example of the family is the 
spindle tree. 

^The Lemonnier editors say that this work is lost. Of course Vasari is 
speaking of the Old St. Peter's, not the present structure. 

'Fra Damiano of Bergamo is mentioned by Vasari in his Life of Francesco 
Salviati (Opere, ed. Milanesi, vii). 


sidered time thrown away in vain to practise it, altiiough 
it may indeed be both praiseworthy and masterly.* 

* Inla ys nf diffprpnt coloured woods, fffTpiing what is known as farsia 

wnrlf, and fjnm gtjmes as marqueterje , compose an easily understood kind of 
d ecoration that has been practised espe cia^ly jti the East from timp irpmpnmrigl 
There is however a special interest attaching to this work in the Italy of the 
fifteenth century, in that it was connected with the st udies in pers pective that 
had so potent an influence on the general artistic progress of the time. For 
some reason that is not clearly apparent the designs for thi s work often took 
the form of buildinp^s and dt tt. views in p erspectivg. and artists amused them- 
selves in working out in this form problems in that indispensable science. 
The history of the craft is so instructive that it is worth a special Note, 
which the reader will find at the end of this 'Introduction,' postea, p. 303. 


On Painting Glass Windows and how they are put together with 
Leads and supported with Irons so as not to interfere with the 
view of the figures. 

§ loi. Stained Glass Windows; their Origin and History. 

Formerly the ancients were in the habit of filling in 
their windows, but only in the houses of great men, or 
of those at least of some importance, in such a manner 
as to prevent the wind or cold from entering, while not 
excluding the light. This plan was adopted only in their 
baths and sweating rooms, vapour baths and other retiring 
rooms, and the apertures and vacant places of these were 
closed with transparent stones, such as onyx marbles, ^ 
alabasters, and other delicate marbles that are variegated 
or that incline towards a yellowish tint. But the moderns, 
who have had glass furnaces in much greater abundance, 
have made the windows of glass, either of bull's-eyes ^ 

' ' The onyx marbles of Algeria, Mexico, and California (which are of the 
same nature as the Oriental alabasters) can be cut and ground sufficiently thin 
for window purposes' (Mr. W. Brindley in Transactions, R.I.B.A., 1887, 
p. 53). See also ante, p. 43. 

^ The ' occhi ' of Vasari correspond to the old-fashioned ' bull's eyes ' which 
are sti ll to be seen surviving in cottage windows . T he 'bull's eve' pane w;^ 
t he middle part of a sheet of so-called ' crown ' glass w here was attached t he 
irnn rnri nr tiiVic with wViirh thp m ass of molten jrlass was extracted from t he 

fiii-n<jfa, hcfnro^ Ky rr|^-^fjr>n nf tVlP rcA 1> i.rac cpvoo^ fM.^ ^^tr, fl^p fnm, nf g 

slissf. When the rod was ultimately detached a knob remained, and this part 
of the sheet was used for glazing as a cheap 'waste product.' In connection 
with the modern revival in domestic architecture, for which iVTr. Norman 
Shaw deserves a good deal of the credit, these rough panes have come again 
into fashion, and manufacturers make them specially and supply them at the 
price of an artistic luxury ! In Vasari's time they were evidently quite common. 


or of panes, similar to or in imitation of those that the 
ancients made of stone; and they have fastened them 
together and bound them with strips of lead, grooved on 
both sides, and furnished them and secured them with 
irons let into the walls for this purpose, or indeed into 
wooden frames,^ as we shall relate. Whereas at first 
the windows used to be made simply of clear bull's-eyes 
with white or coloured corners, afterwards the artists 
thought of making a mosaic of the shapes of these glasses 
differently coloured and joined after the manner of a 
picture.* And so refined has the skill in this art become, 
that in our days glass windows are seen carried to the 
same perfection that is arrived at in fine pictures upon 
panel, with all their harmony of colour and finish of 
execution, and this we shall amply show in the Life of 
the Frenchman Guglielmo da Marcilla.^ 

and we find numerous specimens represented in the pictures of the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries. Tht. KcHi-rn^pi nf g — IXiaiLlajn_£aj3ja£ciBls-^etw*.at 
Venice ; the cel l of S. Terome '" Purer's engraving ; the roo m in which va n 
E yck paints Arnolfini and his wife, those "in which Jost Amman's 'jHand- 
workers' are busy, etc., etc., have casements glazed in this fashion, [the knob, 
called in English 'bullion,' in French 'boudine,' in German 'Butzen,' being 
distinctly represented as in relief. 

'The 'telajo di legno' is a window frame of wood such as we are familiar 
with in modern days, only in olden times these were often made detachable 
and taken about from place to place when lords and ladies changed their 
domicile. When Julius II wanted Bramante to fill some windows of the 
Vatican with coloured glass, it was found that the French ambassador to the 
Papal court had brought a, painted window in such a frame from his own 
country, and the sight of this led to the invitation to Rome of French artists 
in this material. See infra. Note 5. 

* See Note on ' The Stained Glass Window ' at the close of this ' Introduction,' 
postea, p. 308. 

' Vasari wrote the life of this artist, who had been his own teacher in early 
years at Arezzo {Opere, iv, 417). Gaye, Carteggio, 11, 449, gives documentary 
evidence that he was the son of a certain Pierre de Marcillat, and was born 
at S. Michel in the diocese of Verdun in France. His name therefore has 
nothing to do with Marseilles, which moreover is not in a glass-painting 
locality, whereas Verdun, between France and Germany, is just in the 
region where the art was developed and flourished. Guglielmo and another 
Frenchman named Claude came to Rome about 1508 in the circumstances 


In this art the Flemings and the French have succeeded 
better than the other nations, seeing that they, with their 
cunning researches into pigments and the action on them 
of fire, have managed to burn in the colours that are put 
on the glass, so that wind, air, and rain may do them no 
injury, whereas formerly it was customary to paint 
windows in colours coated with gum and other temperas 
that wasted away through time and were carried off by 
the winds, mists, and rains, till nothing was left but the 
mere colour of the glass. In the present age, we see this 
art brought to that high grade beyond which one can 
hardly desire further perfection of fineness and beauty 
and of every quality which contributes thereto. It supplies 
a delicate loveliness not less beneficial to health, through 
securing the rooms from wind and foul airs, than useful 
and convenient on account of the clear and unimpeded 
light that by its means is offered to us. 

In order to produce such windows, three things are 
necessary, namely, luminous transparency in the glasses 
chosen,^ beautiful arrangement in that which is worked 
out with them, and clear colour without any confusion. 
Transparency is secured by knowing how to choose glasses 

described in the foregoing Note, and made some windows for the Sala Regia 
of the Vatican and other parts of the Palace. These have all perished, but 
there still survive two windows from their hands in the choir of S. Maria 
del Popolo, on which are the name and arms of Pope Julius II. They are 
placed north and south behind and above the high altar, and have each three 
lights. They contain scenes from the lives of Christ and the Madonna, in 
which the figures are carefully drawn but the colour is patchy. Though the 
reds are clear and strong, there is a good deal of grey and the architectural 
backgrounds are rather muddy in hue. The artist was invited from Rome to 
Cortona and from thence to Arezzo, which as Vasari notices in the beginning of 
his Life remained his home to the end. He executed many windows there, in 
the cathedral and in S. Francesco, some of which still remain ; and also works in 
fresco. Vasari declares that he owed to his teaching the first principles of art. 

On the whole subject of the glass-painting craft see the Note on ' The Stained 
Glass Wfindow,' postea, p. 308, where the curious confiision of two different 
processes, between which Vasari's treatment oscillates, is elucidated. 

'The significance of Vasari's demand for transparency in glass is explained in 
the Note, postea, p. 308. 


that are clear in themselves, and in this respect French, 
Flemish, and English glasses are better than the Venetian,'' 
because the Flemish are very clear and the Venetian much 
charged with colour. In clear glasses when shaded with 
darker tints the light is not totally lost, they are trans- 
parent even in their shadows, but the Venetian, being 
obscure in their nature and darker still in their shadow, 
lose all transparency. Again many delight in having the 
glasses loaded with colours artificially laid on so that when 
the air and sun strike upon them, they exhibit I cannot 
tell how much more beauty than do the natural colours; 
nevertheless, it is better to have the glasses clear in their 
own substance, rather than obscure, so that when heavily 
coloured they may not be left too dim. 

§ 102. The Technique of the Stained Glass Window.^ 

For painting on glass, we must first have a cartoon 
on which are drawn the outlines of the figures and of the 
folds of the drapery. These show where the pieces of 
glass have to be joined; then the bits of red, yellow, blue, 
and white glass must be picked out and divided according 
to the design for the flesh parts and for the draperies, as 
occasion demands. To bring each piece of glass to the 
dimensions traced on the cartoon, the said pieces are laid 
on the cartoon and the outline marked with a brush dipped 

' It is somewhat remarkable that th e Venetians, who pranHspH thp ar f r.f [rlagg 
mosaic from about the ninth centarv. and in the thirteenth bepan their famon f; 
glass works, never achieved anything in the technique of tht; -jtajpeH plas s 
window. Vene'tian glass vessels, like the glorious lamps from the Cairo Mosque s. 
jiwe much of their beauty to the fact that the material is not clarified bu t 
possesses a beautiful warm ton e. It is indeed more difficult to get dear plass 

than tinted- 

' For the most part this description, with the exception of the part about scaling- 
ofif glass in order to introduce a variety in colour, corresponds closely with the 
technical directions which Theophilus gives so fully and clearly in his Schedula 
Diversarum Artium of about lioo A.D. It is pretty clear that Vasari is 
telling us here what he learned from William of Marcillat who would have 
inherited the traditions of the great French glass-painters of the thirteenth 


in white lead, and to each piece is assigned its number 
in order to find it easily when joining them together; 
when the work is finished the numbers are rubbed oflf. 
When this is done, in order to cut the pieces to measure, 
the workman, having first drawn an emery point over the 
upper surface of the glass along the outline, which he 
damps with saliva, takes a red-hot pointed tool and pro- 
ceeds to pass the point along the outlines, keeping a little 
within them ; as he gradually moves the tool, the glass 
cracks and snaps off from the sheet. Then with the emery 
point he trims the said pieces, removing the superfluous 
part, and with a tool called ' grisatoio ' or ' topo ' (grozing 
iron) which nibbles the traced edges, he makes them exact 
and ready to be joined all round. 

In this manner then the bits of glass fitted together 
are spread on a flat table above the cartoon, and the artist 
begins to paint in the shadows over the draperies, using 
for this the ground scales of iron and of another rust ^ 
found in iron pits, which is red, or else hard red haematite 
finely ground, and with these pigments he shades the 
flesh, using alternately black and red, according to need. 
To produce the flesh tints it is necessary to glaze all the 
glasses with this red, and the draperies with the black, 
the colours being tempered with gum,i° and so gradually 
to paint and shade the glasses to correspond with the 
tints on the cartoon. When this process is finished, the 
worker, desiring to put in the brightest lights, takes a 
short thin brush of hog's bristles and with it scratches 
the glass over the light, and removes some of that coat 
of the first colour that had been given all over, and with 

"The 'scaglia' is the thin scale that comes oflf heated iron when cooling under 
the hammer, and is collected from the floors of smithies. Vasari thinks of it as a 
' rust' 'ruggine,' because rusty iron scales off in much the same way, the cause in 
both cases probably being oxidization. Hence the expression 'another rust.' 

'The pigments or pastes that are to be fused on to the coloured glass, to 
modify its hue or to indicate details, are powdered and mixed with gum for 
convenience in application. The gum is not to serve as permanent binding 
material as the pastes are subsequently fused and burnt in on the glass. 


the handle of the brush picks out the lights on the hair, 
the beard, the drapery, the buildings, and the landscapes 
as he sees fit. There are great difficulties however in this 
work ; and he who delights in it may put various colours 
on the glass, for example, if he trace a leaf or other minute 
object over a red colour, intending it to come out in the 
fire a different tint, he removes from the glass a scale 
the size of the leaf, with the point of a tool that pares 
away the upper surface of the glass. This must be the 
first layer and not more; by so doing, the glass remains 
white ^^ and can be tinged afterwards with that red ^^ made 
of many mixtures, which when fused by heat becomes 
yellow. This can be done with all the colours, but the 
yellow succeeds better on white than on other colours; 
when blue is used to paint in the ground, it becomes 
green in the firing, because yellow and blue mixed make 
a green colour. This yellow is never used unless at the 
back of the glass where it is not painted,^^ because if it 
were on the face it would mingle and run, so as to spoil 
and mix itself with the painting; when fired however the 
whole of the red remains on the surface, this, when 
scraped away by a tool leaves the yellow visible.^* 

^' It will be understood that the glass subjected to this treatment is not 
coloured in the mass, or what is called ' pot-metal,' but has a film of colour 
' flashed ' or spread thinly on a clear sheet. This is done with certain colours, 
such as the admired ruby red, because a piece coloured in the mass would 
be too opaque for effect. Economy may also be a consideration, as the ruby 
stain is a product of gold. 

'''The composition, which when fused stains the glass yellow, may before 
fusion be of a red hue. As a rule the yellow stain on glass is produced by 
silver. Vasari does not say what his composition is. 

''The red film is what Vasari understands by the 'painting.' This might 
fuse and run with the heat required to fuse the yellow. 

"That is, the space where the yellow leaf is to come may be cleared of 
the red film after the yellow leaf has been painted on the back, as well as 
before that process. The process Vasari describes of introducing small details 
of a particular colour into a field of another hue is a good deal employed by 
modern workers in glass, but it was not known to Theophilus, or much used 
in the palmy days of the art, the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. 


After the glasses are painted they must be put into an 
iron muffle with a layer of sifted cinders mixed with burnt 
lime, and arranged evenly, layer by layer, each layer 
covered with these ashes; they are then put into the 
furnace, in which at a slow fire they are gradually heated 
through till both cinders and glasses begin to glow, when 
the colours thereon become red hot and run and are incor- 
porated with the glass. In this firing the greatest care 
must be taken, because a too violent heat would make 
the glasses crack and too little would not fix the colours. 
Nor must they be taken out till the pan, or muffle, in 
which they are placed is seen to be red hot, as well as 
the ashes, with some samples laid on the top to show 
when the pigment is liquefied. 

After this the leads are cast in certain moulds of 
stone or iron. The leads have two grooves; that is 
one on either side, within which the glass is fitted and 
pressed tight.^^ The leads are then flattened and made 
straight and fastened together on a table. Bit by bit all 
the work is leaded in many squares and all the joinings 
of the lead soldered by means of tin soldering irons. 
Across it in parts are iron rods bearing copper wires 
leaded in to support and bind the work, whicl> has an 
armature of irons that do not run straight across the 
figures, but are twisted according to the lines of the join- 
ings, so as not to interrupt the view of the figures. These 
are rivetted into the irons that support the whole, and 
they are made not square but round that they may interfere 
less with the view. They are put on to the outside- of 
the windows and leaded into holes in the walls, and are 
strongly bound together with copper wires, that are 
soldered by means of fire into the leads of the windows. 
And in order that boys and other nuisances should not 
spoil the windows, a fine network of copper-wire is placed 

"In Theophilus's time these convenient leads grooved on both sides, which 
are still in use, were not invented. He directs the worker to bind strips 
of lead round each piece of glass and then solder together the leads when the 
pieces so bound are brought into juxtaposition. 


behind them. These works, if it were not for the too 
fragile material, would last in the world an infinite time. 
But for all this it cannot be said that the art is not difficult, 
artistic, and most beautiful. 


Of Niello,' and how by means of this process we have Copper Prints ; 
and how Silver is engraved to make Enamels over bas-relief, and 
in like manner how Gold and Silver Plate is chased.^ 

§ 103. Niello Work. 

Niello, which may be described as a design traced and 
painted pn silver, as one paints and traces delicately with 
the pen, was discovered by the goldsmiths as far back 
as the time of the ancients, there having been seen in 
their gold and silver plates incisions made by tools 
and filled up with some mixture.^ In niello the design 
is traced with the stylus on silver which has a smooth 
surface, and is engraved with the burin, a square tool cut 
on the slant like a spur from one of its angles to the other ; 
for sloping thus towards one of the corners makes it very 

'' Niello' is from the mediaeval Latin 'nigellum,' 'black,' and refers to the 
black composition with which engraved lines in metal plates were filled, according 
to the process detailed by Vasari. 

^ It is curious that the chapter ends without any discussion of the chasing of 
gold and silver plate. 

'To some small extent the ancients do seem to have filled the engraved lines in 
their bronze or silver plates with colouring matter, and the known examples are 
described in Daremberg et Saglio, Dictionnaire des Antiqiiitis, art. ' Chryso- 
graphia,' p. 1138. P liny, H ist. Nat., XXXIII, 46, gi ves a recipe, as used bv-th e 
E gyptians, fo r a mat erial for colouring silver that corresponds with the com- 
positio n used I'or ni euo wor k, though the use he indicates seems rather that of an 
artificial patina than a hlhng for incisions. In any case the use of such a filling in 
antiquity was quite uncommon, for the innumerable incised designs on the backs 
of Greek and Etruscan mirrors and on caskets like the Ficeronian Cista show no 
indication of the process, though of course in the lapse of time the incisions have 
acquired a darker tinge than the smooth surfaces of the metal, and Vasari may 
have seen them filled with accidental impurities. 



sharp and cutting on the two edges, and its point 
glides over the metal and graves extremely finely.* With 
this tool is executed all graving on metal, whether the 
lines are to be filled or are to be left open, according to 
the pleasure of the artificer. When therefore they have 
finished their graving with the burin, they take silver and 
lead and fuse them into one substance over the fire; and 
this when completely amalgamated is black in colour, 
very friable, and extremely fusible.^ 

The next process is to pound this substance and put 
it over the engraved silver plaque which must be thor- 
oughly clean, then to bring it near to a fire of green wood, 
blowing with the bellows that the rays of the fire may 
strike upon the niello, which by virtue of the heat melts 
and flows filling up all incisions that the graver has 
made. Afterwards when 'the silver has cooled, the worker 
proceeds to remove carefully the overplus with scrapers, 
and with pumice stone to grind it away little by little, 
rubbing it with the hands and with a leather till it is 
reduced to the true flat and the whole is left polished. 
The Florentine Maso Finiguerra worked most admirably 
in this craft in which he was really extraordinary, as is 
testified to by some paxes ® of niello in San Giovanni of 
Florence that are esteemed wonderful. 

§ 104. The Origin oj Engraving. 

From this graving by the burin are derived the copper 
plates from which we see to-day so many impressions 

^ A burin is shown in Fig. 2, D, ante, p. 48. 

^Vasari makes no mention here of sulphur, which in the recipes given by 
Pliny, Theophilus, and Cellini, is a constant constituent of the black amalgam. 
Silver and lead alone would not give the black required. 

'The 'Pax,' Italian 'pace,' was a little tablet of metal or some other material 
used in churches to transmit the kiss of peace from the priest to the people. 
Certain paxes once in the Baptistry of Florence have now found their way 
through the Uffizi to the Museum in the Bargello, but experts are not agreed 
as to the ascription of particular examples to Finiguerra. See Milanesi's note on 
this artist at the close of Vasari's Life of Marc Antonio Raimondi (0/iere, 
V, 443)- 

Plate XIII 

^t^viSf '**^1». 




'viVP^^^^H^ ^^^V^l^l 







W^ — > 




A 'Pax' formerly in the Baptistry, and now in the National Museum, Florence 


throughout all Italy of both Italian and German origin. 
Just as impressions in clay were taken from silver plaques 
before they were filled with niello, and casts pulled from 
these in sulphur,^ in the same manner the printers found 
out the method of striking off the sheets from the copper 
plates with the press, as we have seen printing done in 
our own days. 

'In Vasari's firsL edition, of 1550, there is a notice of Finiguerra in the Life 
of Antonio Pollaiuolo (p. 498) and he there celebrates only the skill of Maso as a 
niellist, but in the edition of 1 568 there is another notice of him in connection 
with Marc Antonio (Opere, ed. Milanesi, v, 395), and here Vasari claims for 
him the credit of being the first to make the advance from niello work to 
copper-plate engraving. This second passage is a famous one, and describes 
ho w Finiyuerra moulded his silver plat e. i"r|figprl with a riesi pn, in clay, and the n 
c ^t it in sulphur, and subsequently filled the hollow lines in the sulphur cast 
(which reproduced the incisions on the silver plate) with lamp-black, so that 
they showed up more clearly. He then seems, according to Vasari, to have 
pressed da mp paper e^ainst the sulphur plaque so treated, a nd obtained a print by 
extracting the black from the lines. Benvenuto Cellini however, a better autho- 
rity than Vasari on Finiguerra, praises him as the best niello worker of his time, 
but says nothing about- this further development of his craft, and on the contrary 
ascribes the invention of copper-plate engraving to the Germans. Cellini tells us 
at the end of his 'Introduzione,' that in 1515, when fifteen years old, he began 
to learn the goldsmith's trade, and that then, though the art of niello-work had 
greatly declined, the older goldsmiths sang in his ears the praise of Maso 
Finiguerra, who had died in 1464. Hence, Cellini says, he gave special 
attention to niello work, and he describes the process, at rather greater length 
than Vasari, in the first chapter of his Treatise on Gold-work (/ Trattati, etc. 
di Benvenuto Cellini, ed. Milanesi, Firenze, 1893). 

The question of the origin of copper-plate engraving need not be here 
discussed. Any of the incised silver or bronze plaques of the ancients might 
have been printed from ; and as a fact some incised bronze discs that are placed 
at the bottoms of the towers in the great crown-light of the twelfth century 
in the Minster at Aachen have actually been put through the printing press and 
the impressions published, though no one at the time they were made can have 
thought of printing from them. In the same way wooden stamps in relief 
were used by Egyptians and Romans for impressing the damp clay of their 
bricks, though no one seems to have thought of multiplying impressions on 
papyrus or parchment. So trial impressions of niello plates, before the lines 
were filled in permanently, may often have been made, and not by Finiguerra 
alone. The idea of multiplying such impressions on their own account is now 
universally credited to the Germans, and this seems also to have been the 
opinion of Cellini. See his 'Introduzione.' 


§ 105; Enamels over Reliefs. 
See now another sort of work in silver and in gold, 
commonly called enamel, a kind of painting intermingled 
with sculpture, suitable for lining the bottom of pieces 
intended to hold water.^ This when worked on gold, 
needs the very finest gold ; and when on silver, the silver 
at least of the quality of the giulio.^ The following 
method is necessary in order that the enamel may remain 
in its place and not run beyond its proper limits. The 
edges of the silver ^^ must be left so fine that when looked 
at from above they escape the eye. In this way is made a 
flat relief contrary to the other kind,^^ in order that when 
the enamels are put over it, it may take its darks and lights 
from the height and depth of the intaglio. Then glass 
enamels of various colours are picked out and carefully 
fixed with the hammer ; ^^ they are kept in little bowls 
filled with clear water, separated and distinct one from 

*That is to say, the bottoms of cups or chalices. There are notices of 
armorial insignia, enamelled at the bottom of cups of gold used by some of 
the French kings, in Labarte, Histoire des Arts Industrieh. 

'Giulio: a piece coined under Pope Julius II, of the same value as the 
' paolo,' and equivalent to 56 centesimi, or about 5jd. of our money. 

^"That is, the outlines of the different figures, ornaments, or other objects 
executed in low relief on the metal. See the Note on ' Vasari's Description 
of Enamel Work ' at the close of the ' Introduction ' to Painting, postea, 
p. 311. 

^' ' The other kind ' probably refers to the incisions on the niello plates 
of which he has been speaking. These are hollow, or in intaglio, whereas 
the work he is here describing is in relief. 

^^'Si fermino col ihartello.' The only practicable use of the hammer in 
connection with enamels is to pound the lumps of vitreous paste to a more or 
less fine powder, in which form they are placed over the metal. Theophilus, 
in chapter 53 of his third Book, ' de Electro,' ' on Enamel,' introduces the 
hammer in a similar connection : ' Accipiensque singulas probati vitri . . . 
quod mox confringas cum rotundo malleo donee subtile fiat ; ' ' take portions 
of the glass you have tested . . . and break up each lump with a round- 
headed hammer till it be finely powdered.' Cellini also says the pastes are 
to be pounded in a mortar 'con martello.' Trattati, p. 30. It is not easy 
however to see how any sense of ' pounding ' can be extracted from the verb 
'fermare' which Vasari uses. 


the other. Those which are used with gold are different 
from those that serve for silver ^^ and they are worked 
in the following manner. The enamels are lifted out 
separately with the most delicate little silver shovel and 
spread in their places with scrupulous cleanliness, and 
this is done over and over again, according as the enamel 
adheres properly, and so with all the quantity that is 
needed at the time. This done, an earthenware receptacle, 
made on purpose, is prepared; it must be perforated all 
over and have a mouthpiece in front, then the muffle, 
which is a little perforated earthenware cover that will 
prevent the charcoal falling from above, is introduced into 
this receptacle, and above the muffle the space is filled 

^ The difference in colour between gold and silver will naturally affect 
the choice of the transparent vitreous pastes that are to cover them, and there 
are also considerations of a chemical kind which prevent the use of certain 
pastes on certain metal grounds. For example tin has the property of rendering 
transparent enamels opaque, and transparent pastes cannot be used over metal 
grounds wherein tin enters into the composition. Cellini, who gives the same 
caution as Vasari, takes as an illustration transparent ruby coloured enamel, 
which he says cannot be used over silver, for a reason which has about it 
a reminiscence of the ancient alchemy, namely, that it is a product of gold 
and must be employed only over its kindred metal ! On the other hand 
he forbids for use with gold yellow, white, and turquoise blue. We are 
indebted for some special information on this highly technical subject to the 
kindness of Mr. H. H. Cunyngharae, C.B., who writes: 'There are two 
distinct reasons why different enamels are used on silver and gold respectively. 
The first is an artistic reason. Transparent reds do not show well over silver, 
the rays reflected from a silver surface not being well calculated to show off the 
colours of the gold. In fact silver absorbs those rays on the transmission of 
which the beauty of gold-red largely depends, whence then it follows that 
transparent blues and greens should be used on silver, and reds, browns, and 
tbf hri sjiter yellows on gol d. In addition to this, silver has fts-sUrJace disturbed 
by^the silicic acid in the enamel. The consequence is that ordinary enamels 
put on a silver surface are stained. To prevent this it is desirable to add 
some ingredient that dissolves and renders colourless the stain. For this purpose 
therefore special fluxes or clear enamels are made for silver. They usually 
contain manganese and arsenic. The first of these has such a property of 
"clarifying" enamels and glazes that it used to be called the potter's "soap," 
for it cleaned the glazes on china. The other is also used for the same purpose. 
... As silver alloy is more easy to melt than gold alloy, fluxes, i.e. clear 
enamels for silver, are much more fusible than those for gold.' 


up to the top with oak charcoal kindled in the ordinary 
way. In the empty space which is left under the afore- 
named cover the enamelled object is placed on a very thin 
iron tray to feel the heat gradually and is kept there long 
enough to admit of the enamels melting, when they flow 
all over almost like water. Which done, it is allowed to 
cool, and then with a ' frassinella,' that is, a stone for 
sharpening iron tools, and with sand such as is used for 
drinking glasses moistened with clear water, it is rubbed 
till it becomes perfectly level. When the process of 
removing all superfluity is finished, the object is placed 
in the actual fire, to be melted a second time in order that 
the whole surface may become lustrous. ^^ Another sort 
is made by hand, and polished with Tripoli plaster 
(powder) and a piece of leather, but of this there is no 
need to make mention. ^^ I have however described the 
above because being, like the other processes, of the nature 
of painting it seemed to come into our subject. 

'*This is a practice of modern enamellers. Cellini however is against it, 
as if the enamels begin again to run there is a danger of losing the truth 
of the surface. He recommends polishing by hand alone (Tratlati, ed. 
Milanesi, 35). 

'^This may have been the so-called Venetian enamel used in Vasari's time. 
This was a form of opaque painted enamel over copper, extremely decorative, 
but coarse as compared with the translucent enamel over reliefs. We owe 
this suggestion to Sir T. Gibson Carmichael. 

Of Tausia,' that is, work called Damascening. 

§ io6. Metal Inlays. 

In imitation of the ancients, tiie moderns have revived 
a gjTPrjf'f^ qi inlaying in mpta1«;, with sunk designs i n 
gj'old or silver, making surfaces either flat or in half or low 
rfilief ; and in that they have made great progress. Thus 
we have seen works in steel sunk in the manner of tausia , 
o therwise called damascening, because of its being excel - 
l ently well done in Damascus and in all the Levant . 
Wherefore we have before us to-day many bronzes and 
brasses and coppers inlaid in silver and gold with 
arabesques, which have come from those countries ; and 
among the works of the ancients we have observed 
rings of steel, with half figures and leafage very beautiful. 
In our days, there is made in this kind of work armour 
for fighting all worked with arabesques inlaid with 
gold, also stirrups and saddle-bows and iron maces : 
and now much in vogue are such furnishings of swords, 

^ The word 'Tausia,' and its connection with 'Tpi-cia ' thf tcmn ngpH fr^r 
wood inlaySf has g iven rise to some discussion. The explanation in Bucher's 
Geschichte der Technischen Kiinste, in, 14, is probably correct, and according 
to this t he Italian ' Tausia ' comes from the Spanish ' Tauscia ' or ' Atauscia,' 

wVl;r^^^ I'c ,^pr;v<.r^ frnm p,n Arghjf xnc^ -nM^rv^ni^ ' fr» deCOrate.' T hp art nf 

in laying one metal in another is one of great antiquity in the East, and wa s 
no doubt brought to Spain bv the Moors, from which country, perha ps by 
w ay of Sicily, it spread to Italy . The word 'Tarsia,' appuea as we have 
already seen to inlays in wood, may have been derived by corruption from 
' Tausia,' though, as the form ' Intarsia ' is also common, a derivation 
(unlikely) has been suggested from the Latin ' Interserere.' The 'in' is probably 
only the preposition, that has become incorporated with the word it preceded; 


of daggers, of knives and of every weapon that men 
desire to have richly ornamented. Damascening is 
done in this way. The worker makes undercut sinkings 
in the iron ^ and beats in the gold by the force of a 
hammer, having first made cuttings or little teeth like 
those of a slender file underneath, so that the gold is 
driven into these hollows and is fixed there.^ Then by 
means of tools, he enriches it with a pleasing design 
of leaves or of whatever he fancies. All these designs 
executed with threads of gold passed through the wire- 
drawing plate * are twined over the surface of the iron 
and beaten in with the hammer, so as to be fixed in the 
method mentioned above. Let care however be taken 
that the threads are thicker than the incised outlines so 
as to fill these up and remain fixed into them. In this 
craft numberless ingenious men have executed praise- 
worthy things which have been esteemed marvellous ; and 
for this reason I have not wished to omit mention of it, 
for it depends on inlaid work and so, partaking of the 
nature of both sculpture and painting, is part of the 
operations of the art of design. 

2 ' Cavasi il ferro in sotto squadra.' 

=* If the sinkings be undercut the further process of roughening the sunk 
surfaces is hardly necessary, but the roughening or puncturing may suffice to 
hold the inlaid metal when there is no actual undercutting of the sides 
of the sinkings. 

* The ' filiera,' or iron plate pierced with holes of various sizes for drawing 
wires through, was known to Theophilus. See chapter 8 of Book in of the 
Schedula, ' De ferris per quae fila trahuntur. ' 


Of Wood Engraving and the method of executing it and concerning 
its first Inventor: how Sheets which appear to be drawn by 
hand and exhibit Lights and Half-tones and Shades are produced 
with three Blocks of Wood. 

§ 107. Chiaroscuro Wood Engravings. 
The first inventor of engraving on wood in three pieces 
for showing not only the design but the shadows, 
half -tints, and lights also was Ugo da Carpi. ^ He 
invented the method of wood engraving in imitation of 
the engravings on copper, cutting them on the wood of 
the pear tree or the box which are excellent above all 
other kinds of wood for this work. He made his blocks 

' Vasari does not attempt to deal with the art of wood leagraving in general 
nor need this Note traverse the whole subject. In all these later chapters of 
the ' Introduction ' to Painting he is dealing with forms of the decorative art 
in which various materials are put together so as to produce something of the 
effect of a picture. Hence all that he envisages in the department of wood 
engraving are what are called chiaroscuri, or engravings meant to produce 
the effect of shaded drawings by tints rather than by the lines which constitute 
engravings proper. It has been noticed that some writers on engraving, (ante, 
p. 20) have denied to these imitated light-and-shade drawings the character 
of true engravings. 

As we have seen to be the case with copper-plate engraving (ante, p. 275) 
priority is now claimed in these chiaroscuri for Germany over Italy, and Ugo 
da Carpi, who was born about 1450, near Bologna, becomes rather the 
improver of a German process than the inventor of a new one. On July 24, 
1516, when resident in Venice he petitions the Signoria of that city for 
privilege for his ' new method of printing in light and shade, a novel thing 
and not done before.' Lippmann {TTte Art of Wood Engraving in Italy in 
the Fifteenth Century, trans., London, 1888) thinks that this claim may be 
true 'in so far as he may have introduced further developments in the 
practice of colour printing with several blocks, which still survived in Venice, 


then in three pieces,^ placing on the first all that is contour 
and line; on the second all that is tinted near to the 
outline, putting in the shadow with water-colour; and 
on the third the lights and the ground leaving the white 
of the paper to give the light, and tingeing the rest for 
the ground. This third block containing the light and the 
ground, is executed in the following manner. A sheet 
printed by the first block, on which are all the contours 

especially after the production of coloured wood-cuts by Burgkmair and 
Cranach in Germany had given fresh stimulus to a more artistic cultivation 
of that method ' (p. 69), and that ' he gave the art an entirely new 
development based upon the principles which guided the profession of painting ' 
(p. 136). This last phrase explains the interest that Vasari here manifests in 
his work. In the older wood engraving only lines had been left on the block 
to take the imt, the rest oTThe surfane hein f r rut away, and whatever w aS-to 
be shown in the print was displayed in the lines alone. In the new method 
broad surf aces of the wood were left , on which was spread a film of ink or 
pigment, and these printed a corresponding tint upon the paper which took 
off the film thus laid. The pigment might be of any colour desired, or 
might only represent a lighter tint of the ink that had been used all along 
for the lines. Hence either an effect of colour or one merely of gradations 
of light-and-shade could equally well be produced by the process Vasari 
describes. The work he contemplates is of the latter kind, and his 
explanation of the process by which it was produced is fairly clear. Plate XIV, 
from a print by Ugo da Carpi in the British Museum, gives a specimen of 
the result. 

Critics of Ugo da Carpi's work, which is sufficiently abundant, notice that 
he begins by merely adding tints of sha ding to outlines, which as in the 

rema ined substantially responsible for the effect^: but that he gives more and 
mor e importance to the tints, the pict orial element in the design, till the 
o utlines end by merely reinforcing the chiaroscuro, like the tnnrbes 'a tempera ' 
th at give effect and d ecision to painting ir| fresrn (TfrUtpllpi-, Kitpferstich und 
Hohschnitt in vier Jahrhunderten, Berlin, 1905, p. 300). 

^That is, he made three blocks A, B, C, each the full size of the design, 
but each containing only a part of the work. A has engraved on it 
all the lines of the design, and a print from it would be an old-fashioned 
engraving proper. Such a print with the ink on it still wet is pressed down 
on a clean block of wood, on which it leaves indications of all these lines. 
The broad tints of shading, in which gradations may be introduced, are then 
laid on the block by hand, the outlines being a. guide, and so is constituted 
block B, an impression from which printed on a sheet already printed from 
block A, and made to register accurately with this, would add shading to 

1-1 fi 

Q I 

o a 


o "l 

> <u 


w i 

Q Si 

o S 

o -S 

« pq 

" S 

tn o 

(^ ^ 

^ .S 


and lines, is taken wet and placed on the plank of the 
pear tree and weighted down with other sheets which are 
not damp and so pressed upon that the wet sheet leaves 
on the board the impression of all the outlines of the 
figures. Then the painter takes white lead mixed with 
gum and puts in the lights on the pear-wood. After this 
is done the engraver cuts them all out with tools, 
according as they are marked. This block is that which, 
duly primed with oil colour,^ is used for the first process, 
namely, to produce the lights and the ground, the whole 
surface, therefore, is left tinted except just where it is 
hollowed out, because there the paper remains white. The 
second block is that which gives shadows. It is quite 
flat and tinted with water-colour, except where the shadows 
are not to come, because there the wood is hollowed out. 
And the third, which is the first to be shaped, is that in 
which the whole outlined part is hollowed out all over, 
except where there are no profiles touched in with black 
by the pen.* 

These are printed at the press and are put under it three 
times, i.e. once for each impression, so that they shall 

the outlines. C would add by the same process a third tint, quite flat, 
for the background, and this might of course be of another colour. The 
high lights would be cut away in this block, C, and these parts come out 
white in the print, as is seen on Plate XIV. The uniform grey shade on the 
Plate is the background tint. In the actual process of printing this block, 
C, is first put into the press and produces an impression showing the tinted 
background but white spaces where the high lights are to come. B, with the 
shadows tinted but all the rest of the wood cut away, is printed over the 
impression from C, and lastly A comes to give the decided lines and sharpen 
up the whole effect. 

^ The ' oil colour ' is the pigment which is transferred from the block to 
the paper. The ' water colour' and the ' white lead mixed with gum ' mentioned 
above are only put on by the artist to guide the wood-cutter in his work of 
cutting the block. 

*The text, in both the original editions, runs as follows: 'E la terza che e 
la prima a formarsi, h quella dove il profilato del tutto e incavato per tutto, 
salvo che dove e' non ha i profili tocchi dal nero della penna,' and the 
negative is puzzling, for obviously the wood must be cut away everywhere 
but in those places where the outlines do come. 


severally have the same pressure. And certainly this was 
a most beautiful invention. 

§ 1 08. Dependence on Design of the Decorative Arts. 

All these lines of work and ingenious arts, as one sees, 
are derived from design, which is the necessary fount of 
all, for if they are lacking in design they have nothing.^ 
Therefore although all processes and styles are good, that 
is best by which every lost thing is recovered and every 
difficult thing becomes easy : as we shall see in reading 
the Lives of the artists, who, aided by nature and by study 
have done superhuman things solely by means of design. 
And thus, making an end of the Introduction to the three 
Arts, treated perhaps at too great length, which in the 
beginning I did not intend, I pass on to write the Lives. 

° But Theophilus says practically nothing about design, and yet the mediaeval 
epoch was for the decorative arts one of the most glorious the world has 
ever seen. See on this subject the last part of the Introductory Essay, 
ante, p. 20 f. 



[§ 8i, The Fresco Process, ante, p. 221.] 

The fresco process is generally regarded as one of several 
methods for the production of pictures. It is better to consider 
it in the first place as a colour finish to plaster work. What it 
produces is a coloured surface of a certain quality of texture 
and a high degree of permanence, and it is a secondary matter 
that this coloured surface may be so diversified as to become a 

The history of the process is involved in obscurity, and it is 
not known who first observed the fact that colours mixed only 
with water when laid on a wet surface of lime plaster dried 
with the plaster and remained permanently attached to it. The 
technique was however known to the Romans, and we obtain 
the best idea of its essential character from the notice of it 
by Vitruvius in the third chapter of his seventh book. It is 
there treated in intimate connection with plaster work, as only 
the last stage in the technical treatment of a wall. The wall 
is constructed of stone or brick ; it is then plastered ; and the 
plaster is, or can be, finally finished with a wash of colour. Of 
the character of this antique plaster work something has 
already been said in a note to § 72, in connection with Sculpture 
(ante, p. 171). It could be finished either in a plain face of 
exquisite surface that might even be polished, or with stamped 
ornaments in relief or figures modelled by hand; but it could 
also be completed with colour in the form either of a plain tint 


or a picture, and this colour would be applied by the fresco 

Pair vHny 'a frpsr r. ' mpans painting nn the frpshlv laid. and 

s tni wet final coat of plaster . T he pigments are mixed wit h 
n othing but pure water, an d the pa lette of the artist is limited 
by the fact that practically speaking only the earth colours, 
such as the ochre s, can be used with safety ; even the white has 
to be made from li me-r the Italians called it ' bianco San 
Giovanni ' — as lead white, called ' biacca, ' is inadmissible. 
Vegetable and metallic pigments are as a rule excluded from 
use. The reason why pigments mixed with water only, without 
any gum or similar binding material, adhere when dry to the 
plaster is a chemical one. The explanation of it was given by 
Otto Donner in an Appendix to Helbig's Campanische Wand- 
gemdlde, Leipzig, 1868, and is to be found also in Professor 
Church's Chemistry of Paints and Painting. When limestone 
is burnt into lime all the carbonic acid is driven out of it. The 
result of the slaking of the lime by water, which is preliminary 
to its use in plastering, is that the material becomes saturated 
with an aqueous solution of hydrate of lime. This hydrate of 
lime rises to the surface of the plaster, and when the pigment 
is laid on, to use Professor Church's phrasing, it ' diffuses into 
the paint, soaks it through and through, and gradually takes 
up carbonic acid from the air, thus producing carbonate of 
lime, which acts as the binding material.' To put the matter 
in simpler language, lime when burnt loses its carbonic acid, 
but gradually recovers it from the air, and incidentally this 
carbonic acid, as it is re-absorbed, serves to fix the colours 
used in the fresco process. It jg a mistak e to speak of th e 
p igment ' sinking into the wet olast fr ' T*- '-""'a;^.^ ^r. j-ho 
s urface, but it is fixed there in a sort of crvstallinp gb-in nf 
c arbonate of lime w hich has formed on the surface of the 
plaster. Th is crys ta lline skin ^ives a certain metallic lu stoe 
to the surface r>t a tresrn paintinfr, anH ic ei.fflr-jf>r.j- tn prntecj 
t he colours irom the artmn nf pytprnal ' nini'itliri^i though 

on the other hand there are many causes chemical and physical 
that may contribute to their decay. If however proper care 
have been taken throughout, and atmospheric conditions 
remain favourable, the fresco painting is quite permanent. 


The process of painting, it will be easily seen, must be a 
rapid one, for it must be completed before the plaster has time 
to dry, which it would do if left for a night. Hence only a 
certain portion of the work in hand is undertaken on each day 
and only so much of the final coat of plaster, called by the 
Italians ' intonaco,' is laid by the plasterer as will correspond 
to the amount the artist expects to cover before nightfall. At 
the end of the day's work, the plaster not painted on is cut 
away round the outline of the work actually finished, and the 
next morning a fresh patch is laid on and joined up as neatly 
as possible to that of yesterday. In the making of these joints 
the ancient plasterer seems to have been more expert than the 
Italians of the Renaissance, and the seams are often pretty 
apparent in frescoes of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, 
so that thiey can be discerned in a good photograph. When 
they can be followed, they furnish information, which it is 
often interesting to possess, as to the amount that has been 
executed in a single day. 

To prevent loss of time it is necessary to have a full-sized 
cartoon i n readiness- so that the drawing can be at once trans- 
ferred to the coat of wet plaster as soon as it has been laid. 
Vasari speaks of these cartoons in § 'j'j, in the second chapter 
on Painting, ante, p. 213. The use of the i ron stvl us for 
impressing the lines of the drawing on the wet plaster is to be 
traced in some of the later Italian frescoes. Another process 
for carrying out the transfer was called ' gouQcingJ For this 
the lines o f the cartoon were pricked and dabbed with a mu slin 
bag filled with powdered black, so as to show in dotte d 
c ontours upon th e wall. 

Vasari is eloquent, both here and in a passage in his 
' Proemio ' to his whole work, on the judgement, skill, and 
decision necessary to paint successfully in fresco under these 
conditions and within these limits of time. The ideal of the 
process was to complete each portion absolutely at the one 
sitting. When the wall is once dry, any retouching, re- 
inforcement of shadows, and the like, must be done ' a secco,' 
' on the dry, ' that is with pigments mixed with size, egg, or 
some other tempera, which will bind them to the surface. 
These after-touches lack the quality of texture and permanence 



of the true fresco (buon fresco). If size or gum have been used, 
they can be washed off the wall, and having been laid on a 
dry surface by a kind of hatching process they are harsh and 
' liney. ' It is often possible in good large-scale photographs 
to distinguish between the broad soft touches of the frescoist 
laid on while the ground was wet, and the hard dry hatchings 
of the subsequent retouching. 

The illustration, Plate XV, has been chosen as a good 
example of the fresco technique. It shows the head of Mary 
from Luini's fresco of the ' Marriage of the Virgin ' at Saronno. 
The painting is executed in a broad and facile manner, the 
tints and tones which give the colour and the modelling being 
deftly fused while the whole is wet, and the darker details, such 
as the locks of the hair, are struck over the moist ground so 
that the touches seem soft and have no appearance of hatching. 
The light-coloured leaves of the garland round the head show 
the same softness, and they are laid in with a full brush in 
thick pigment. On the other hand there are marks of retouch- 
ing where the shadows round the eyes, the corner of the 
mouth, etc., have been reinforced ' a secco,' perhaps by a 
restorer. These show as thin, hard, wiry lines, and have quite 
a different appearance from the work on the wet plaster. 

It was only in the palmy days of Italian painting, from the 
la tter part of the fifteent h century onwards, that artists were 
a ble to dispense almost entirely with retouching. In thf f^prlipr 
period of Giotto and his successors much more was left to be 
done ' a secco, ' but the Giottesques fully understood the import- 
ance of doing all they could on the wet plaster, and Cennini in 
the 67th chapter of his Trattato insists that' to paint on the 
fresh, that is a fixed portion on each day, is the best and most 
permanent way of laying on the colour, and the pleasantest 
method of painting. ' The truth is that the technique of ' buon 
fresco,' while apparently understood by the Romans, was lost 
in the west during the early middle ages, though it may have 
been maintained in the Byzantine cloisters. In the course of 
the progressive improvements in the art of painting in the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the old technique was gradu- 
ally recovered. Recently Ernst Berger, in his Beitrage zur 
Entwicklungs-Geschichte der Maltechnik, i and 11, Munchen, 

Plate XV 


(From a photograph by Giacomo Brogi) 



2nd ed., 1904, has denied that the Romans used the fresco 
technique, and has evolved an ingenious theory of a derivation 
of fresco painting from the mural work in mosaic which 
flourished in the Early Christian centuries. See note, ante, 
p. 255. Into the question thus raised it is not necessary to enter, 
because no reader of Vitruvius or Pliny can have the shadow of 
a doubt that they knew and were referring to the fresco process. 
The words of Vitruvius (vii, iii) ' Colores autem, udo tectorio 
cum diligenter sunt inducti, ideo non remittunt sed sunt per- 
petiio permanentes, quod calx,' etc., and those of Pliny (xxxv, 
49) ' udo inlini recusant ' employed of certain colours which 
are known not to be admissible in fresco are quite conclusive 
on this point, and it does not advance science to build up 
elaborate theories on a denial of obvious facts. 


[§ 82, Painting in Tempera, ante, p. 223.] 

In his appreciation of technical processes Vasari, it will be 
seen, reserves his enthusiasm for fresco painting, but gives oil 
the advantage over tempera (ante, p. 230) in that it (i) ' kindles 
the colours,' i.e., gives them greater brilliancy; (2) enables the 
artist to blend his pigments on the panel or canvas so as to 
secure a melting, or as the Italians say a ' sfumato ' or ' misty ' 
effect; (3) admits of a force and liveliness in execution which 
makes the figures seem in relief upon the surface, and finally (4), 
as he says at the beginning of chapter vii, is a great con- 
venience, ' una gran comoditi all' arte della pittura. ' The onl y 
c orresponding- advantages on the side of tempera, as d etailed 
in § 82, ante, p. 223 f., are the facts th at all pigments canlE 'e 
used in it^ and that the same media serve for work on grounded 
or ungrounded panels or on the dry plaster of walls ; and that 
p aintings in tempera ar e very lasting. When Vasari came to 
write of his own works at tne end of the Lives in the second 
edition, his conscience seems a little to have smitten him, and 
he gives the process a word of special commendation. He 
speaks of using it for some mural paintings in his private house 
which he had just built at Arezzo, and says, ' I have always 
reverenced the memory and the works of the ancients, and 


seeirtg that this method of colouring " a tempera " has fallen 
out of use, I conceived the desire of rpsruinfr it from oblivion. 
Hence I did all this work in tempera, a process that certainly 

does not mprit to b^ flpcpicprl nr nfg-lprtpH ' (OperB, VII, 686). 

If antiquity and wide diffusion be criteria of rank among 
painting processes, then tempera may claim the first place of 
all. The Spaniard Pacheco, the father-in-law and t eacher o f 
V elasquez, remarks on the veneration due to it herpnsp it 
had its hirthdav with art itself . As a fact all the wall paint- 
ings in ancient Eg;j;j2t_a.nd Ba bylonia and Myrpngpan (^i-pppp, 

a ll the mummy f^g^sps gnH pgpymg rnlls in thp firs^-nampH 

c npntry, nrp pvp''"tpf) in tpmpprg and the same is probably true 
of all the wall paintings in Italian tombs, as well as of the lost 
mural work of Polygnotus and his school, and the panel paint- 
ings of all the Greek artists save those who, in the later period 
after Alexander, adopted encaustic. Though fresco was known 
as a mural process to the Romans it was not used in the Early 
Christian catacomb paintings, nor in the mediaeval wall 
paintings north of the Alps, for all these were in tempera. For 
panel painting, both in the East and the West, save for a 
doubtful and in any case limited use of oil, tempera was in 
constant employment till in the fifteenth century it began to be 
superseded by the new oil media popularized by the van Eycks. 
Even then tempera maintained its ground, and it is not always 
realized that artists like Mantegna, Bo tticelli and Diirpr wp rp 
as a rule in their panel work tempera painters. In the case 
of mural work at any period fresco can really never have wholly 
superseded tempera, for fresco can only be worked on fresh 
plaster, while the artist must often have to decorate walls 
already plastered and long ago dry. In this case there would 
be a choice between replastering for fresco and the more 
fiCCQoniical alternative of employing some form of tempera. 

It is however with tempera painting on panels rather than 
with mural work that we are here concerned. Vasari's sum- 
mary treatment of the process in § 82 ante, p. 223, contrasts 
with Cennini's far more elaborate directions, and is a measure 
of the destructive effect of the inroad of oil painting on the 
more venerable system. At the outset of his Trattato Cennini 
gives a list of the processes the panel painter has to go 


through. The preliminary ones, before painting actually 
begins, will take him six years to learn and Cennini needs 
about a hundred chapters to describe them. The artificer must 
know how to g rind colours, to use ^lue, to fasten the 
linea on the pane l, to prime with gesso, to scrape and smooth 
the gesso, to make reliefs in ^es so. to put on bol e, t o gild , to 

b urmsil, to mix temper as, to Ifiy "" gmnnHinfr rnlnnrc;, to 

t ransfer bv pouncing through pricked lines, to sharpen line s 
w ith the sty lus, to in dent with little patter ns, t o carv e, to 
c olour, to orname nt the panel, an d finally t o varnish it ! All ■ 
this suggests, what was actually the case, that the prnress p£ 
t empera painting was a very precise and methodical one, pro - 
ceeding by regular stages according to traditional methods and 
recipes. The result was from the point of view of modern 
painting something very limited, but within its range, and in the 
hands of artists of the fifteenth century, it was a very finished 
and exquisite artistic product, one indeed to which we return 
with ever-renewed delight after our yearly visits to the Salon 
or to Burlington House. A certain natural reaction, that some 
artists of to-day have felt against the slashing impressionistic 
style, has led to a revival of the old precise technique, which 
is now cultivated in London in a Society of Painters in Tempera. 
It should be remembered that it is_ perfectly p ossible to pai nt 
' a tempera ' in a free and loose fashion with a full impasto and 
in dividualistic handling. If dry powdered colours be mixed 
with the yolk or whole inside of an egg without dilution, the 
resulting pigment is as full of body as oil paint and can be 
manipulated in the same fashion. What is generally under- 
stood however by the tempera style is the painting of the 
fifteenth century on panel, in which, as Cennini indicates, the 
egg would be diluted with about its own bulk of water. This 
rendered the pigment comparatively thin and as a result trans- 
parent, and allowed coat to be laid over coat, so that Cennini 
contemplates seven or eight or even ten coats of colour 
tempered with egg yolk diluted with water. These are laid 
over an underpainting in a monochrome of terra verte, and are 
so transparent that even at the end the ground will remain 
slightly visible (c. 147) and so help the modelling. It is how- 
ever a difficulty in tempera that it dries very quickly, too quickly 


to admit of that fusing of the tints while the impasto is wet, 
which Vasari mentions as an advantage in the oil process, 
§ 83, ante, p. 230. Hence the usual ways to model in tempera 
are (i) to superimpose coats varying in tone, and (2), to use 
hatching, a process very observable in early Italian temperas, 
such as some ascribed to Botticelli in the National Gallery. 
Another drawback, not so marked however in egg tempera as 
in the size tempera with a basis of whitening used by scenic 
artists, is that the colours dry lighter than they appear when 
wet. Those who in the present day are enamoured of the 
tempera process say that these inconveniences do not trouble 
them, while they delight in the purity of the tints, the precision 
of the forms, which it enables them to preserve, and in a 
certainty and reposefulness which seem to belong to it. One 
of these writes as the result of her experience ' In tempera you 
work with solid paints, and blending must be extremely rapid, 
or a substitute for this must be found in thin washes or in 
hatching. Crisp work is again a great beauty, but from the 
rapid drying of the paint in the brush, and its un-tenacious 
quality, it is a difficulty. Vasari is right in saying oil is a great 
convenience, but its introduction does not seem to have been in 
all respects a gain. ' 


[§ 83, Oil Painting, its Discovery and Early History, 
ante, p. 226.] 

The bare fact of the invention of oil painting by John of 
Bruges, recorded by Vasari in 1550 in chapter vii of his 
' Introduction ' to Painting, is in the Life of Antonello da 
Messina, in the same edition, retold in the personal anecdotic 
vein that accords with Vasari 's literary methods. Here the 
' invention ' followed on the splittio ^i of a particular temp pra 
panel, varnished in oil, that according to traditional i^rartW 
vaju- F^ y k hflH put n ut in th p _ am L_to dr"y . The said artuTtheJi 
turned his attention to devising some means for avoiding such 
mischances for the future, and, in Vasari's words, ' being not 
less dissatisfied with the varnish than with the process of 
tempera painting, he began to devise means for preparing a 


kind of va rnisVi which should dry in the shade, so as to avoid 
having to place the pictures in the sun. Having made experi- 
ments with many things both pure and in compounds, he at 
last found that l inseed and nut oil, among the many which h e 
h ad tested, were more drv 'ng- tVian all tVip rp-^t These ther e- 
fore. Soiled with other mixtures of his , made him the varnish 
wtTirVi Vip had 1nng He.sireri.' This varnisVi, Vasari frn p.s on to 
s ay, he mixed with the co lTirfi and found that it ' li t up the 
t-nWrg so powprfiilly that it gave a. c^loss ^f ifgplf,' without 
any aftpr-poat of varnish. 

If we ask What is the truth about this ' invention ' of van 
Eyck, or of the brothers van Eyck (see ante, p. 226, note i), the 
first answer of any one knowing alike the earlier history of the 
oil medium and Vasari's anecdotal predilections would be ' there 
was no invention at all. ' The d rying properties of linseed an d 
nut oil, and the way to increase these, ha d been known fo r 
hundreds of years, as had also the preparation of an oil varnis h 
wit h^sandarac resin. There is question too of a colourless spirit 
varnish, and of the process of mixing varnish with oil for a 
painting medium, in documents prior to the fifteenth century. 
The technique of oil painting is described by Theophilus, about 
1 100 A.D. ; in the Hermeneia or Mount Athos Handbook; and 
in the Trattato of Cennini, while numerous accounts and records 
of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries establish incontestably, 
at any rate for the lands north of the Alps, the employment of 
oils and varnishes for artistic wall and panel painting. The 
epitaphs for the tombs of the two van Eycks make no mention 
of such a feat as Vasari ascribes to them, and it is quite open 
to any one to argue, as is the case with M. Dalbon in his 
recent Origines de la Peinture a I'Huile, Paris, 1904, that it 
was no special improvement in technique that brought the van 
Eycks their fame in connection with oil painting, but rather 
an artistic improvement that consisted in using a traditional 
process to execute pictures which in design, finish, beauty, and 
glow of colour, far surpassed anything previously produced in 
the northern schools. There is a good deal of force in this 
view, but at the same time it_ is impossible to de ny to the van 
Eycks the credit of te chnical improvements. They Kacl a 
reputation for this long before the time of Vasari. In 1456, 


fifteen years after the death of the younger brother Jan, Bar- 
tolomeo Facie of Spezia wrote a tract De Viris Illustribus in 
which he spoke of John van Eyck as specially ' learned in those 
arts which contributed to the making- of a picture, and on that 
account credited with the discovery of many things in the pro- 
perties of colours, which he had learned from ancient traditions 
recorded by Pliny and other writers. ' The Florentine Filarete, 
c. 1464, knew of the repute of Jan van Eyck in connection 
with the oil technique. Hence we may credit the van Eycks 
with certain technical improvements on traditional practices 
and preparations in the oil technique, though these can hardly 
be termed the ' invention of oil painting, ' while their artistic 
achievement was great enough to force into prominence what- 
ever in the technical department they had actually accomplished. 
The question of the exact technique of the van Eycks, in its 
relation to the oil practice before their time, is one that has 
occupied many minds, and is not yet satisfactorily settled. 
Most of those who have enunciated theories on the subject have 
proceeded by guess-work, and have suggested media and pro- 
cesses that may possibly have been used, but for the employ- 
ment of which there is no direct evidence. The most recent 
suggestion is that of Principal Laurie of Edinburgh, and this 
is founded on scientific analysis. The experiments with oils 
and varnishes and other media, which this investigator has 
been carrying on for many years, have taught him that the 
most secure substance for ' locking-up ' pigments as the phrase 
goes, that is for shielding them from the access of moisture or 
deleterious gases, is a resin, like our Canada balsam, that 
may be used as a varnish or painting medium when dissolved 
in an essential oil. As he believes he can detect in the van 
Eycks' extant pictures pigments that would only have lasted 
had they been shielded by a preparation of the kind, he 
conjectures that the use of a natural pine balsam, with probably 
a small proportion of drying oil and rendered more workable 
by emulsifying with egg, may be the real secret of which so 
many investigators have been in search. For example, the 
green used for the robe of John Baptist and other figures in 
the ' Adoration of the Lamb ' at Ghent can be matched, as 
we lately found by experiment, with verdigris (dissolved in 


pine balsam which is a much finer green than verdigris ground 
in oil) and yellow ochre or orpiment, and the only known way 
of rendering verdigris stable is to dissolve it in these pine 
balsams, according to a recipe that is actually preserved in 
the de Mayerne MS., which Berger has lately printed in full 
in the fourth Part of his Beitrdge. 

Be this as it may, one thing is certain, that the oil painting 
of the van Eycks and other painters of the early Flemish school 
did not differ greatly if at all in its artistic effect from the 
tempera that had preceded it, and that is described in the last 
note. Oil painting, in the sense that we attach to the term, 
is really the creation not of the Flemings, nor of the Florentines 
and other Italians who were the first to try experiments with 
the new Flemish process, but of Giovanni Bellini and the other 
Venetians who adopted the oil medium in the last quarter of the 
fifteenth century. According to Vasari, ante, p. 229, and Life 
of Antonello da Messina, Opere, 11, 563 f . , it was the last named 
artist who acquired the secret of the invention of van Eyck 
through a visit to Flanders, and brought it to Venice. Vasari 
has been proved to be wrong in the chronology he gives of the 
life of Antonello, who was born about 1444 and was therefore 
much younger than Vasari makes him, and many critics have 
been disposed to relegate his whole account of the Sicilian 
painter to the realm of myth. The most recent authority on 
the subject however, Dr von Wurtzbach, in his Niederldndisches 
Kiinstler-Lexicon, vindicates Vasari 's accuracy in the main 
points of the visit to Flanders and the introduction of the new 
process at Venice, which event may be fixed about 1475. It 
was taken up with avidity by the Bellini and by other Venetians 
of the time, and it is to the younger Bellini more than to any 
other painter that is due the apprehension of the possibilities 
latent in the oil medium. Giovanni Bellini began to manipulate 
the oil pigments with a freedom and a feeling for their varied 
qualities of which earlier oil painters had possessed little idea, 
and the way was prepared for the splendid unfolding of the 
technique in the hands of Giorgione, Palma, and Titian. 


[§§ 90-92, ante, p. 240 f.] 

The external decorations, of which Vasari writes in chapters 
XI, XII, and xiii of his ' Introduction ' to Painting, have come 
down to us in a very dilapidated condition, but there are still 
to be seen specimens of all the work he there describes, as well 
as of the decorative carvings in stone noticed in the ' Introduc- 
tion ' to Architecture, under the head of Travertine (at Rome) 
§ 12, Istrian stone (at Venice) § 15, and Pietra forte (at Flor- 
ence) § 17; ante, pp. 51, 56, 60. The most common technique 
is monochrome painting ' a fresco ' on the plaster, and a good 
deal that passes as sgraffito is really only painted work in which 
there is no relief. One of the best existing displays is that on 
the fa9ade of the Palazzo Ricci, at Rome, a little to the west of 
the Palazzo Farnese. Here on the top floor are painted trophies 
of armour in bronze colour (ante, p. 241) with grotesques 
(ante, p. 244) in yellow and brown on the story below. On the 
piano nobile there is a frieze of figures in grisaille monochrome, 
with some single figures on a larger scale between the windows. 
Above the door is another frieze of figures on a black ground. 
More extensive, but less varied and not so well preserved, are 
the figure compositions on the back of the Palazzo Massimi, 
in the Piazza dei Massimi, at Rome, where the whole wall is 
covered with figure monochromes on a large scale on dark 
grounds. There are many more fragmentary specimens, as 
in the Via Maschera d' Oro, No. 7; the Via Pellegrino, No. 66, 
etc. The work of Maccari, Roma, Graffiti e Chiaroscuri, Secolo 
XV, XVI, gives a large collection of reproductions of work 
that has now to a great extent perished. 

Sgraffito work, in which the effect is produced by differences 
of plane in the plaster itself (see ante, p. 243), resists the 
weather much better than mere painting, but it takes longer to 
execute and was not so much used as the more rapidly wrought 
fresco. The Palazzo Montalvo, in the Borgo degli Albizzi at 
Florence, offers a good example of a compromise. The work, 
at any rate in the lower part, is not true sgraffito as the plaster 
in the backgrounds is not scraped away, but the outlines of the 


figures and ornaments are marked by lines incised in the plaster, 
the brush, with light and dark tints, accomplishing the rest. 
On the other hand the house of Bianca Capello, 26 in the Via 
Maggio, is decorated in the true sgraffito technique as described 
by Vasari, ante, p. 243. The same may be said of a house in 
Rome, Via Maschera d' Oro, No. 9, where the difference of the 
two planes of plaster is about an eighth of an inch. This work 
is clogged up with buff lime-wash and would be worth cleaning, 
as it seems in fair preservation. 

Of modelled stucco figure-designs and grotesques the Cortile 
of the Palazzo Spada, near the Campo di Fiore at Rome, 
presents the most extensive display. A more interesting piece 
of work will however be found not far away in the Via de' 
Banchi Vecchi, Nos. 22-24, the house of the goldsmith Pietro 
Crivelli of Milan, of the first half of the sixteenth century. 
Here between the windows of the first floor are boldly designed 
trophies of arms carved in travertine, while between and above 
the windows of the second floor there are figures and 
grotesques effectively modelled in stucco. These are outlined 
with an incised line in the stucco and there is no colour. For 
free but not over-florid Renaissance enrichment the fa9ade is 
noteworthy. The abundant stone carving at Florence in the 
form of the ' stemmi ' has been already referred to, ante, p. 61. 


[§ 92, Grotesques or fanciful devices painted or modelled on 
walls, ante, p. 244.] 

Vasari touches on the subject of plaster work in all three 
' Introductions,' to Architecture (§ 29), to Sculpture (§ 73) and 
to Painting (§ 92). In the former passages he deals with the 
material itself and with what may be called its utilitarian 
employment; in the last he has in view the artistic forms into 
which the material can be moulded, and which he calls by the 
curious name ' grotesques. ' What these ' grotesques ' are will 
presently be seen, but it is worth while first casting a glance 
back on the artistic use of plaster in its historical aspects. 

It is not a little remarkable that although all the great 
ancient nations were familiar with this material, it was not till 


the late Greek and Greco-Roman periods that any general use 
was made of it as an independent vehicle of artistic effect. 
The Egyptians coated their walls with plaster of exquisite 
quality, which they brought to a fine, almost a polished, surface 
for their tempera paintings. The inhabitants of Mesopotamia 
protected their mud-brick walls with thin coats of lime plaster, 
sometimes only about a quarter of an inch in thickness but 
perfect in durability and weather-resisting properties. The 
Phoenicians at Carthage plastered the interior walls of their 
tombs, and the expression ' whited sepulchres ' shows that 
Jewish tombs were coated in the same fashion. All through the 
historical period of Greek art plaster was at the command of 
the architect, to cover, and fill up inequalities in, the rough 
stone of which so many of the Hellenic temples were built, and 
fragments of the pre-Persian buildings of the Athenian 
Acropolis, still preserved on the rock, show how finely finished 
and how adhesive was this stucco film. So far as we know 
however none of the peoples just named seem to have modelled 
in the material, or used it for any of the decorative purposes 
for which the Greeks at any rate employed so largely the 
material of burnt clay. The exception is in the case of the 
older Aegean peoples, for the Cretans of Knossos made, as all 
the world now knows, a most effective artistic use of modelled 
stucco. This Aegean work may be connected technically with 
Egypt, for in the latest Egyptian period a considerable use 
was made of modelled plaster for sepulchral purposes, in the 
form of mummy-cases in which the features of the deceased, 
with headdress, jewels, etc., were represented in this material. 
The technique may go back in Egypt to the remoter times and 
may have been carried thence to the Aegean lands. The process 
however was apparently not inherited by the historical Greeks, 
who did not begin to use plaster freely and artistically till the 
later Hellenistic or Greco-Roman period. 

Some late Greek private houses of the second or first century 
B.C., on Delos, show a beginning of modelled plaster work in 
the form of drafted ashlar stones imitated in the material, and 
it may be conjectured that the technique was developed at 
Alexandria, for the earliest existing mature works in the 
style, the famous stucco reliefs and mouldings found near the 


Villa Farnesina at Rome, resemble in many respects the 
so-called ' Hellenistic ' reliefs, with landscape motives, that 
are ascribed to the school of Alexandria. In these stuccoes, 
now preserved in the Terme Museum at Rome, there are bands 
of enrichment stamped with wooden moulds, after the fashion 
described by Vasari in the ' Introduction ' to Sculpture, § 73, 
that enclose fields wherein figure compositions with landscape 
adjuncts, or single figures, have been modelled by hand. Many 
of these last are of great beauty of form, and the whole have 
been executed with the lightest but firmest touch and the most 
delightful freedom. Some ceiling decorations in two tombs on 
the Via Latina, of the second century a.d., are almost as good 
in execution, and are interesting as giving in typical form 
ancient models that have been much copied at the Renaissance 
and in more modern times. 

Early Christian artists, both in the West and in the East kept 
up the artistic use of stamped or modelled stucco. The Arabs 
inherited the technique, and at Cairo, and in the East and in 
Spain, they made a very extensive and tasteful use of the 
tractable material in their own style of artistic decoration. 
This style, like that of Byzantium, from which in great part it 
was derived ; and that of the familiar Indian work in the 
exquisite marble-dust plaster or chunam, is chiefly surface 
decoration, without much plastic feeling, and relying mainly on 
geometrical, or at any rate inorganic, motives and forms. Bold 
modelling of forms accentuated by light and shade, as we are 
kindly informed by Dr James Burgess, does occur in old 
Buddhist work in northern India, and some excellent examples 
have recently been published in Ancient Khotan (Chinese 
Turkistan) Oxford, 1907, vol. i, p. 587 and pi. liii ff. The work 
however belongs essentially to the West rather than to the 
East, and the middle-ages in Western Europe produced some 
remarkable works in this style. There is some modelled stucco- 
work of early date in the Baptistry at Ravenna, but the most 
interesting examples of the period in Italy are the large figures 
of saints and the archivolt enriched with very bold and effective 
vine scrolls, that are to be seen in the interior of the little 
oratory of S. Maria in Valle (or Peltrude's chapel) at Cividale 
in Friuli. These very remarkable works, with which may be 


connected the stuccoes of the altar ciborium at S. Ambrogio, 
Milan, date about iioo, and may be paralleled by similar 
figures, equally plastic in treatment, and of about the same 
period, north of the Alps, in St Michael's at Hildesheim. 
Signer Cattaneo calls the Cividale work ' Byzantine,' but life- 
sized plastically-treated figures in high relief represent a form 
of decorative art that was not practised at Byzantium, and the 
work, like a good deal else that is too lightly dubbed ' Byzan- 
tine,' is no doubt of western origin, and is a proof that the 
tradition of modelling in plaster was handed down without a 
break through the mediaeval period. 

At the Renaissance the tradition was revived, and this style 
of decoration was developed in Tuscany and North Italy, while 
one of its most conspicuous triumphs was the adornment by 
Italian artists in the first half of the sixteenth century of the 
Galerie Frangois Premier and Escalier du Roi at Fontainebleau 
in France. It spread also to our own country, where artists 
of the Italian school carried out work in the same thoroughly 
plastic style in the now destroyed palace of Nonsuch, under 
the patronage of Henry VIII. 

This is not however the style that Vasari has in view when 
he speaks of ' stucco grotesques. ' What he means is an 
imitation of ancient stamped and modelled plaster decoration, 
of the type of that represented in the tombs on the Via Latina 
just referred to. Here the scale is small, though the work may 
cover large 'spaces, and the design is on the whole of a light 
and fanciful kind. The impulse to it dates from the early years 
of the sixteenth century when considerable discoveries were 
made at Rome, in the Baths of Titus and elsewhere, of antique 
apartments or sepulchral chambers decorated in this fashion. 
As these interiors, when discovered, were all underground they 
were called ' caves ' or ' grottoes,' and for this reason, as 
Benvenuto Cellini informs us in the 6th chapter of his Auto- 
biography, the decoration characteristic of them was called 
' grottesque. ' The fact that the designs were so commonly of 
the fantastic or so-called ' Pompeian ' order has given to the 
word ' grotesque ' its modern meaning of bizarre or semi- 

According to Vasari, the painter Morto da Feltro (c. 1474- 


c. 1519) was the first to study these antique decorations. ' Our 
first thanks and commendations ' he says {Opere, ed. Milanesi, 
V, 205 f.) ' are due to Morto, who was the first to discover and 
restore the kind of painting called " arabesques " and " grot- 
tesques," seeing that they were for the most part hidden among 
the subterraneous portions of the ruins of Rome, whence he 
brought them, devoting all his study to this branch of art. ' He 
spent many months also, Vasari tells us, at Tivoli among the 
ruins of Hadrian's Villa, and made a journey to Pozzuoli near 
Naples, all on the same quest. Stucco reliefs in this revived 
antique style were used at the beginning of the sixteenth 
century by Pinturicchio in the Appartamenti Borgia in the 
Vatican, and from that time onwards they become exceedingly 

[§ 100, Inlays in Wood, ante, p. 262.] 

The covering of one kind of material by another, for reasons 
of a constructive or an aesthetic kind, is so primitive and so 
universal that Gottfried Semper made it the fundamental prin- 
ciple of decoration in general, and developed this view in 
his famous ' Bekleidungstheorie, ' which dominates der Stil. 
Semper's philosophy of art was sufficiently profound for him to 
see that this process is not to be accused of insincerity because 
the more costly or beautiful material appears only on the out- 
side, while the mass of the structure may be of commoner 
fabric. The materials in question are as a rule limited in 
quantity and it would be bad economy to employ them in 
positions where their beauty would not be seen. To build a 
thick wall of rare finely-veined and coloured marble in solid 
blocks would be to behave like degenerate Roman Emperors. 
Such material is far more suitably treated when it is exposed in 
thin layers over as large a superficial area as possible. Hence 
though there is nothing in the world to equal the fine 
' isodomon ' masonry of the earlier Greeks, which is the same 
throughout, there is much to be said in justification of the 
late Greek and Roman technique, so lai'gely used in mediaeval 


Italy, of incrusting a common material with one of finer grain 
and colour. 

In the case of wood inlays, it may be claimed for the craft that 
it originates in material need and not in any aesthetic considera- 
tions. Wood, of which the grain always runs one way, needs 
sometimes to be overlaid, braced, and prevented from warping 
by a slip of the same material placed with the grain at right 
angles to the first, after the fashion seen in our common 
drawing-boards. The great variety in colours and markings 
shown by different woods must however at a very early date 
have led to the employment of inlays and veneers for reasons of 
artistic effect, and in this craft the old Oriental peoples were 
proficient. It is worthy of notice that some Greek wood inlays 
have survived, and may be seen in the Kertch room at the 
Hermitage in St Petersburg. The motives of all early inlays 
are either geometrical patterns or simple conventional orna- 
ment, like the olive sprays which are represented in the Greek 
work just mentioned. In these forms the craft was preserved 
through the mediaeval period, and though in the West, at any 
rate north of the Alps, the mediaeval epoch was one in which 
ornamentation was plastic rather than graphic, that is to say, 
in carving more often than in inlay, yet in Moorish lands, and 
in parts of Italy, inlays, both in stone and wood, were freely 

The history of Italian tarsia work takes a new start with the 
beginning of the Renaissance, and it became as Bode has termed 
it ' a true child of the art of the Quattrocento ' or fifteenth 
century. The earliest examples seem to be in geometrical 
schemes, influenced by the so-called ' Cosmati ' work, or inlays 
of small pieces of coloured stones and gilded pastes, so common 
in Italy from the twelfth to the fourteenth century. The painted 
borders to the frescoes of Giotto and other pre-Renaissance 
masters imitate this kind of work and show how familiar it must 
have been. Next come conventional ornaments in the so-called 
' Italian ' manner, consisting in acanthus scrolls, swags of fruit 
and flowers, with classical motives such as horns of plenty and 
candelabra, among which are soon introduced ' putti ' or 
Cupids, terminal figures, etc. As the fifteenth century advanced 
there was developed the curious penchant, noticed ante, p. 264, 


for introducing perspective delineations of buildings and articles 
of furniture into the tarsia designs. Vasari in his Life of 
Filippo Brunelleschi Opere, ed. Milanesi, 11, 333 (see also the 
text ante, p. 262), distinctly intimates that this was due to the 
influence of this artist, whose enthusiasm for perspective studies 
is well known. The only existing works in wood inlay which 
might claim to be designed or inspired by Brunelleschi are those 
in the old sacristy of S. Lorenzo at Florence, but these do not 
display perspectives, and the subjects comprise only ' putti ' 
with candelabra, rosettes, and other simple ornaments. The 
influence of Brunelleschi on the advancement of the study of 
perspective was however so great, that Vasari 's view of his 
general responsibility for the perspectives is credible. 

With the perspective designs of the latter part of the fifteenth 
and beginning of the sixteenth century, was developed the 
elaborate delineation of objects of still life, as well as more 
ambitious work in the representation of the human figure, alone 
or in groups. These inlays were abundantly displayed in wall 
panelling and on the doors of presses, and more especially on 
the backs and frames of choir stalls in the churches. It is char- 
acteristic of Italian decoration as opposed to that prevailing at 
an earlier date north of the Alps, to find choir stalls, which in 
northern churches are made the occasion of the most splendid 
display of wood carving in the boldest architectural and plastic 
styles which the world has to show, decorated in Italy for the 
most part in a pictorial style with flat inlays. 

The number of extant examples, both in the case of presses 
and of choir stalls, is so great that no enumeration is possible, 
and the reader is referred for a critical account of the chief 
monuments of the art to the small book by Dr Scherer, Technik 
und Geschichte der Intarsia, Leipzig, 1891. The artists who 
fostered the work were also very numerous, and represent many 
centres in the northern parts of Italy. We learn for instance 
that in Florence alone in the year 1478 there were no fewer 
than 84 botteghe where tarsia work was in full practice. The 
names actually mentioned by Vasari will suffice to represent 
the chief phases of the craft. If Brunelleschi may have started 
the idea of perspective designs, these were carried out to great 
perfection by Fra Giovanni da Verona, whose master-works, the 



stalls and presses in S. Maria in Organo at Verona, dating from 
about 1500 onwards, are among the most famous examples of 
the kind. Here are perspectives of buildings and furniture, 
objects of still-life, and the like, with geometrical patterns in 
the framings and on the dado. In figure work Benedetto da 
Majano, whom Vasari mentions, and more especially his 
brother Giuliano da Majano, were masters of the very first rank, 
and the examples left by the latter on the presses of the sacristy 
of the Duomo at Florence, and on the door leading to the Sala 
d' Udienza in the Palazzo Vecchio, are masterpieces of 
technique and style. At a later date near the middle of the 
century, the artist mentioned by Vasari towards the end of his 
chapter xvii, Fra Damiano of Bergamo, a pupil of the same 
Venetian school from which proceeded Fra Giovanni of Verona, 
executed at S. Domenico in Bologna a series of works in tarsia 
that represent the furthest development in a pictorial direction 
that the craft ever attained. 

Of this display however Dr Scherer aptly writes (p. 80) that, 
' whoever demands from wood an effect similar to that of a 
picture, sets it in ignorance of its nature to tasks that are 
beyond its capabilities, and constrains material and technique 
to exaggerated efforts which are contradictory to their char- 
acter. This is the fundamental error that clings to all the 
works of the much-belauded Fra Damiano and is calculated 
seriously to obscure his greatness.' The development of tarsia 
work was in the direction of pictorial effects. Though purely 
decorative patterns of a geometrical or conventional kind were 
always used, they tended as the art advanced to be confined 
to borders and subsidiary parts of a design, while the principal 
fields were pictorially treated. The introduction of perspectives 
naturally led to the accentuation of the third dimension of 
objects, and in still-life compositions modelling and shading 
were deemed essential. The human figure, the use of which 
increased greatly as the fifteenth century advanced, was given 
its plastic roundness which it was assuming in the contempor- 
ary frescoes. Conventional leafage, etc., was no longer treated 
for the effect of a mere flat pattern. In the latter part of the 
century the figure work of Giuliano da Majano shows how far 
in this direction the art could be carried while still preserving 



its sincerity as a mosaic of natural woods. In this work the 
utmost advantage is taken of the varieties shown by woods in 
colour and texture, without dependence on artificial colouring 
matters, and those pictorial refinements over which Vasari sings 
his usual paean, but which really prefigure the decline of the art. 
A close examination of a specimen of Giuliano's inlays of about 
1470-80, such as the S. Zenobi now in the Opera del Duomo at 
Florence (see Plate XVI), shows extraordinary skill and patience 
in the laborious work. The outlines are marked by thin strips 
of black wood; the staff which the Saint holds in his hand, 
though it is not half-an-inch broad, is modelled in light and 
shade with no fewer than six parallel strips of wood varying 
in light and dark. The hands are carefully modelled in inlays. 
The mouth of the figure on the right of the Saint has one piece 
for the upper lip and a lighter piece for the lower in which the 
two lights on the lobes are let in with separate pieces. The 
shadow between the Ups and the light on the lower edge of the 
lower lip are inserted with strips of dark and light tinted wood. 
In one of the most interesting works of the da Majano brothers, 
the two portrait figures of Dante and Petrarch, on the door 
leading into the Sala d' Udienza in the Palazzo Vecchio at 
Florence, the face of the older poet is deeply furrowed, and in 
order to prevent the inlaid streaks appearing too hard and 
' liney ' they are made up of an infinite number of little morsels 
of wood the size and shape of millet grains, each one glued 
down into its place. Such work impresses the spectator by 
its sincerity and earnestness as well as by its technical mastery. 
The use of artificial colouring matters, over and above the 
burning which was the first device employed to give an effect of 
shading in special places, destroys for us this aspect of sincerity. 
The material is no longer allowed to express itself in its own 
character, and taste revolts from the work as it does from 
tapestry in which pigments have been used to give details for 
which stitches should in the theory of the work suffice. The 
case is different from that of the coloured wax medallions 
noticed ante, p. 188 f., where the scale is so small, and the 
detailed representation of nature so essential a part of the work, 
that waxes coloured in the piece could hardly be made to avail. 



[§ loi, Stained Glass Windows, their Origin and History, 
ante, p. 265.] 

This is not a specially Italian form of the decorative art, but 
belongs rather to France and north-western Europe. A proof 
of this may be found in the fact that in 1436 the Florentines 
have to send for a worker in glass from Liibeck in Germany to 
make windows for their Duomo (Gaye, Carteggio, 11, 441 f.), 
while at the beginning of the next century Pope Julius II 
summons French verriers to supply coloured windows for the 
Vatican (see ante, p. 266, note). The art was differently 
regarded north and south of the Alps, and Vasari in his account 
of it gives, in § 102, the tradition of the northern schools, but 
lets us see at the same time, in § loi, how the Italians were 
accustomed to envisage the craft. 

There is accordingly in his treatment a confusion between two 
distinct ideals of the art, one traditional and northern, the other 
congenial to an Italian painter of the sixteenth century. Accord- 
ing to the first ideal of the art, that on which it was founded 
and nurtured north of the Alps, it depended for its effect upon 
coloured glass, that is upon the varied tints of pieces of glass 
stained in the mass with metallic oxides, and called by the 
moderns ' pot metal. ' These different coloured pieces were so 
arranged and so treated as to give the appearance of figures or 
ornaments, and to this extent the effect was pictorial, but such 
a window would depend for its beauty far more on the 
sumptuous display of coloured light than on any delineation of 
figures or objects. 

The sort of window which would present itself to the Italian 
of the Renaissance, as representing his ideal of the art, is rather 
a transparent picture painted on glass, in which delineation is 
the chief part of the effect. This is the view that Vasari has 
in mind, when, in § loi, he insists on transparency in the glass 
employed. The old glass worker of Chartres or the Sainte 
Chapelle would hardly have known what to do with transparent 
uncoloured glass, for this, save in pearl borders, was not an 
element with which he worked. Vasari however starts with the 


idea of clear glass and imagines it coloured in sucli a way as 
to produce a transparent picture. There were two methods for 
this colouring. The only satisfactory one was to paint in 
transparent enamel colours which were afterwards burnt in on 
to the glass. This was a process specially developed in the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Flanders, whence it was 
probably introduced into Italy. 

The other method was to employ transparent pigments, such 
as were used for ordinary painting, and to fix them on the glass 
by means of gum or varnish. This method is of course a mere 
pis alter to which no self-respecting worker in glass would like 
to have recourse, and must be regarded as merely a cheap 
imitation of true glass painting in enamel colours. That is to 
say, it did not precede, as Vasari suggests in § loi, but 
followed as an imitation, the development of true enamel paint- 
ing. That the two processes were in use in Italy in Vasari 's 
time is shown by a contract printed by Gaye, Carteggio, 11, 446, 
in which certain windows to be executed at Arezzo in 1478 are 
to be ' cotte al fuoco, ' ' burned in the fire, ' and not merely to 
have the colours ' messi a olio, ' ' laid on in oil-paint. ' 

The earlier glass workers of the palmy days of the craft, from 
the twelfth to the fourteenth century, in France, England, 
Flanders, or Germany, aimed at different effects altogether, and 
their technique is explained by Vasari in § 102, (ante, p. 268), 
where the whole character of the work envisaged differs from 
the painted work previously in contemplation. As is indicated 
in a foot-note to the text, the description of the work, which 
starts it will be noticed with ' bits of red, yellow, blue, and 
white glass,' not with a clear pane, is almost exactly what we 
find in Theophilus, though a little less simple, and represents 
the early tradition of the mediaeval masters. Their work was 
the development of an Early Christian technique. Coloured 
glass, which it must be remembered is really easier to procure 
than glass perfectly clear, was first used in little rounds or 
squares for insertion in the holes pierced in marble or plaster 
slabs that filled window openings. Such window fillings are to 
be seen in mosques and Byzantine churches. The next stage 
was a mosaic of pieces of coloured glass arranged on a certain 
scheme and perhaps displaying geometrical patterns. No speci- 


mens of early windows of this kind seem to have survived, but 
they are referred to in contemporary documents, as in the Liber 
Pontijicalis, where it is said that Leo III, 795-816, in Old St. 
Peter's, ' fenestras de apsida ex vitro diversis coloribus con- 
clusit.' It is not clear whether such mosaics, or something 
more pictorial, is referred to by Abbot Gozbert of Tegernsee 
about the year looo a.d. as ' discoloria picturarum vitra,' but 
about this same epoch we find it stated of. Archbishop Adalberon 
of Reims, who died in 989 a.d., that he supplied his church 
with ' fenestris diversas continentibus historias/ which certainly 
implies something more than the kaleidoscope effect of a mere 
conjunction of coloured pieces. Theophilus, whose treatment 
of the process shows that it was fully established at the time of 
his writing, say about iioo a.d. , makes it clear wherein the 
innovation consisted. The new invention was that of a oiy- 
mentp of a brown colour when fused, with which could he painted 
any details or shading- required for representing the forms of 
objects . A mere patch of pale flesh-coloured glass the shape of 
a face would tell nothing, but when the features, the locks of. 
the hair, and the like, were painted in with this piyment then the 
patch became a. human countenance. In the same way a piece 
of red or blue glass with some lines and shading on it became 
a garment, and so on with the representation in a simple and 
summary fashion of the objects necessary to constitute the sort 
of pictorial representation suitable to the technique. The 
coloured glass remained throughout the essential element in 
the effect. All the finest glass windows of tlie twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries were executed with these simple media. 
The later history of the art shows as usual a progressive 
advance in the importance of the pictorial element, till by the 
sixteenth century coloured glass is scarcely needed, and the 
pictorial effect desired may be gained by fusing pigments on 
to clear glass, in the way Vasari contemplates in § loi (ante, 
p. 267). 

Of this Italian stained glass of the Renaissance period very 
good examples are to be seen in the Laurentian Library at 
Florence, and a specimen is shown on Plate XVII. 

Chapter xiii of Charles Heath Wilson's Life and Works of 
Michelangelo contains a good critical notice of the decorative 

Plate XVII 









work at the Laurentian Library. The windows, which were 
not executed till long after the death of Clement VII whose 
name appears on the glass, he thinks may be mainly from the 
designs of Vasari's friend Francesco Salviati, a pupil of the 
glass painter Guglielmo da Marcillat. He writes of them : — 
' These windows both in design and colour are admirably suited 
to Italian architecture, and offer useful lessons at the present 
time. Introduced into a Library where plenty of light was 
indispensable, white glass prevails. There is much yellow 
(silver) stain, and where colour is wanted in some parts, pot 
metal is introduced, but there is not much of it. The shadows 
are vigorously painted in enamel brown of a rich tone. Unlike 
modern painted glass, the figures and ornaments are drawn 
with all the skill of an educated artist, and it is a pleasure to 
look at them.' 

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London affords the oppor- 
tunity for a comparison of all these different styles. There is 
some original glass of the thirteenth century from the Sainte 
Chapelle at Paris, made of small pieces of very richly tinted 
glass, coloured in the mass, the effect being more that of a very 
rich and beautiful diaper pattern than a picture ; while close by 
may be seen a Flemish window of 1542, in which the pieces of 
glass are of large size and in many cases are white, the neces- 
sary colouring being added in different enamel pigments. The 
subject is the Last Supper, and a purely pictorial result is 
aimed at, the effect of colour being as a fact extremely poor. 


[§ 105, Enamels over Reliefs, ante, p. 276.] 

Coloured vitr eous paste s are among the most valuab le 
materials at the command of th p Hernrativp arti<^t, and are 
erpployed in numerous crafts, as for example for the glazes of 
k eramic produ cts including floor or wall tiles , for painted glas s 
wjjidows, for glas s mosaic, and for enamel work. The glass is 
jinged in the mass with various metallic oxides, one of the 
f inest colours being a rubv red gained from gold . Sil ver give s 
y ellow, copper a b lue-green , cobalt blue, manganese violet, aiji d 
so on. Tin in any form has the property of making the vitreous 


paste opa que. The material is g enerally lustrp us, and it admits 
of a g reat variety in colours s ome of which are highly saturated 
and beautiful. It is on the lus tre and co lour of the substance, . 
more than on the pictorial designs that can be produced by its 
aid, that its arti stic va lue depends. 

T he difference between opaque and transparent coloured gla ss 
i s the basis of a division that can be made among the craft s 
w hich employ the material . If the glass be kept transpare nt 
the fi nest possible effect is obtained from it in the stained gla^ s 
windosy where the colours are seen by transmitted light. A 
similar effect is secured on a minute scale in that form of enamel 
work called by Labarte ' pmgiiv jt plignp a jn^j^j ' or ' trans - 
parent cloisonnt^ enamel/ in wfiirh tran<;parpnt rnlnnrpH pactpg 

are fused into small apertures in metal plates . Old examples in 
this kind are very rare, but modern workers seem to reproduce 
it without difficul ty. On the other hand transparent or more 
usually o paque vitreous pastpg i n thin films form many of the 
so-called ' glazes ' which give the cha rm of lustre and colour., 
to so many products of the potter's art . The most effective 
use of opaque coloured glass is in wall mosaic, where it is see n 
by reflected l ight, and owes its beauty to its lus trousnes s as well 
as to the richness and v ariety of its hues. Between these two 
crafts of the stained-glass window and mosaic comes that of 
the enamelle r, who makes use of vitreous pastes both in an 
opaqu e and a transpa rent condition. The identity of the 
materials in these different uses is shown by the fact that 
Theophilus, Bk. ii, ch. 12, directs the enameller to p ound up an d 
me k for his incrustations the very cubes used in old mosaic s, 
or as he puts it ' in antiquis aedificiis paganorum in musivo opere 
diversa genera vitri.' Enamel work consists in f using thes e 
coloured pastes o yer surfaces that are generally of meta l, the 
different tints heinff pithpr Histinrtly se parated by Hiyi si pnc^ nr 
else^ running beside.-£ac h other, or again interpenetrating like 
the colours in a picture. Henc e there are two main HivUinng n f 
the enameller 's craft, the painted enamel where the colours are 
fus£d-on to the metal but produce an effect simiiadp_that of a 
p ainting executed wiUiJhe brush, the special advantage of the 
enamel being its lustre; and th e encrusted enamel, where th e 
effe£t_Ja mn r. £ _J|ike that of mosaic. Vasari would have 


thoroughly appreciated the painted enamels, known generally 
as e namels of Limog fs. which are complete pictures, but, 
though Cellini mentions them, they originated north of the Alp s 
and only came into general vogue after Vasari's time. The 
i ncrusted pnamel'; arp parlipr^ a nd of these he only describes on e 
p articular kind that had its home gpprially In Italy 

Th e earliest known enamels, whether Western or Byzantin e 
o r Oriental in origin, have the different colours separated^ i n 
compartm ents HivirlpH frnm each nfher hy riHgpg r»f rp^t al whiqh 

giv e the lines of the design . These so-called ' champlev6 ' and 
' qloisonnd ' enamels there is no need to discuss, but it may be 
noted that the paste s used in them, though highly lustrous, 
arejipaque^ and cover completely the metal over which they are 
laid. T he enamel described by Vasari dififers from these earlie r 
enamels in compartments in that the pastes are transpare nt, 
s o that the ground shows through . T he divisions between th e 
c olours also are not so marked. In this kind of work trans- 
- parent vitrpniKi paiitpi are fuse d over a metal ground that has 
been c hased in low relief, so that the light and shade of the 
relief shows through the transparent coloured film. The work 
is very delicate and on a small scale, and th g ground is nearly 
always g"lf1 Or ^ilvpr A slight s inking is made in a plate of 
one of these metals where the enamel is to come, and at the 
bottom of this sinking the subject is carved or chased in very 
low relief, so low indeed that Cellini compares the height of it 
to the thickness of two sheets of paper (DeW Oreficeria, c. iii). 
The transparent enamels are then fused over the different parts 
of the design, the contours of the figures or objects being just 
allowed to show as fine lines of metal between the different 

Examples of this work are rare, but the Victoria and Albert 
Museum and the British Museum have some good specimens. 
Transparent enamels are used also in other ways, and are some- 
times arranged in apertures (see above) so as to show by 
transmitted light. Labarte's Histoire des Arts Industriels is 
still indispensable as an authority on various kinds of enamel 
work, though there is a whole literature on the theme. 


for buildings and permanent monuments at Florence, Rome, etc., see under the 
names of the respective cities. 

The references are to pages. The upright numerals refer to the text, the sloping 
ones to the commentary. 

Aachen, minster at, crown light in, 

Abbozza, 1', ^j/. 
' Abundance,' see ' Donatello, 

'Adoration of the Lamb,' by van 

Eyck, 2g6. 
' Agias,' the, by Lysippus, 146. 
' Alberese,' 57. 
Alberti, Leon Battista : i, 7, 8, 10, 

II, 12, ij, 25, 30, 66 : his writings ; 

De Re Aedificatoria, 6, 13, 26, 34, 

6j, 2J2 ; Delia Pittura, 6, 11, 12, 

13; Delia Scultura, 6, ig2; Tract 

on the Orders, 66. 
Alcamenes, his competition with 

Pheidias, iSi, 186. 
Aldovrandi, 104. 
Alexander VI, 260. 
Alexandria, 102, 300. 
Alfonso of Naples, 226. 
Amalgam, for niello work, 274. 
Amiens, portals at, igg. 
Ammanati, 46, 123, i3g. 
Anastatius IV, 2^. 
Ancona, arch at, 79. 
Andrea dal Castagno, 229. 
Anio, the, 31. 

Antiques, collections of, 102 1. 
Antonello da Messina, 229, 2gy. 
'Apollo'; 'Belvedere,' 116; 'Chois- 

seul Gouffier,' 146; at Naples, 42, 

' Applied ornament,' 22. 
Arabesques, 303. 
Arch of Discharge, 70. 

Arches : ancient ; at Ancona, 79 ; 
at Pola, 79 ; at Rome, 76, 82, 132, 
184, igy : temporary, 240. 

Architectural forms, significance of, 

Architectural practice, mediaeval 
and modern, 207. 

Architecture; Gothic, 83, 132, 133 {. ; 
ideal, 18, 96, 138 ; mediaeval, 
Vasarion,83,7'jjf.; Renaissance, 
^SS, U^U books on, /2, 74; 
Roman, see ' Rome,' and passim. 

' Architettura Tedesca,' 134. 

Archivio delta R. Societa Romana 
di Sloria Patria, 103. 

Armatures ; in models of clay or 
wax, 149, 150, igs ; in moulds 
for bronze casting, 160 f , 201 ; in 
modelled plaster work, 171. 

Aretine vases, 136. 

Arezzo ; 267, 3og ; Cathedral, 267 ; 
Museum, 137 ; S. Francesco, 
267 ; Vasari's house, 2gi. 

Armenini, 7. 

Armour, arms, inlaid, 279 f. 

' Ascension ' by Melozzo da Forli, 

Ashlar work, 50, 63. 

Assisi ; S. Francesco, 134; Roman 
Temple, 75. 

Athens ; Acropolis, 300 ; Museums, 
23g\ Olympeion, 132 ; Pentelicus 
quarries, 44, ig4. 

Bacchus, Temple of, at Rome, 27, 



Bacon, Francis, his Essay on 

Building, ijg. 
Baldinucci ; his Notizie, no, 113, 

114 ; his Vocabolario, 57, 231. 
Bandinello, 46. 

Bardiglio, grey marble, 4S1 49i ^^5- 
Basalt, 104, J17. 
Bassae, sculpture from, 184. 
Bathroom pictures, 227. 
Beccafumi, Domenico, 258. 
Bekleidungstheorie, Samper's, joy. 
Bell earths, 230. 
Bellini ; Gentile, 2j6; Giovanni, 597; 

Jacopo, Vasari's Life of, 2jy. 
Bells, casting of, 164, igg. 
Belvedere, Cortile di, see ' Rome, 

Bdrard, Dictionnaire des Artistes 

Franqais, 130. 
' Bernward ' pillar, the, 164. 
Bertolotti, Artisti Francesi in 

Roma, etc., 130. 
' Bianco Sangiovanni,' 221, 288. 
Birmingham, its School of Art, 22. 
Boccaccio, his Commentary on 

Dante, J5. 
Boetheus, de Ariihmetica, 236. 
Bollettino d' Arte del Minister o 

delta Pubblica Istruzione, quoted, 

Bole Armeniac, Bolus, 248. 
Bologna ; John of, 38; S. Domenico, 

Bonanni, Numismata, etc., 116. 
Borghini, 7. 
Botticelli, as tempera painter, 2g2, 

Box wood; for carving, 174; for 

wood-cuts, 281. 
Braccio, as measure of length, viii. 
Bramante, 116, 133, 266. 
Breccia, 37, 38, 45, 49, 57, 123, 261. 
Brenner, the, 134. 
Brick; pounded, 232, 234; varie- 
gated, for pavements, 260. 
British Museum, 313. 
Bronze ; casting in, see ' Sculpture, 

in Bronze'; composition of, 163 f; 

incised designs in, 273. 
Brunelleschi, 23, 46, 58, ig6, igy, 

262, 303. 

Brussels, Town Hall at, 236. 

Buddhist stucco work, 301. 

' Building,' relief on Giotto's Cam- 
panile, .307. 

Bulletin Monumental, 136. 

Bulls' eyes, 265. 

Buonarroti, the Casa, 46, igj. 

Buonarroti, Michelangelo, personal 
references to, 3, 13, 25, 33, io8. 

Buonarroti, his work ; at Florence, 
46, 80, no; at the marble quarriei: 
120 f.; at Rome, 14, 36, 53, 81 
J 16, 153 ; as architect, 53 f , 80 f 
as decorative designer, 33, 81 
116; as draughtsman, 216; as 
restorer of antiques, 32, 116 ; as 
sculptor, go, 153, ig2, ig4, igs, 
igg ; as writer, lyg, 180, ig?. 

Buontalenti, go. 

Burgkmair, 282. 

'Burin,' or graver, 165, 273. 

Burlington ; House, see ' Exhibi- 
tions ' ; Magazine, 227. 

Burnishing of gold, 249. 

Busts, Roman, in coloured -wax, 188. 

Byzantine ; mosaics, 136 ; mural 
paintings, 223 ; temperas, 223 ; 
misuse of the word, 302. 

' Calcagnuolo ' (toothed chisel), 48, 

Camaldoli, monastery of, 233. 

Cameos, 157, 169. 

'Campanini,' marbles, 45, 50. 

Campiglia, 50, J27. 

Cancellieri, Lettera . . . intomo la 
. . . Tazza, log. 

Cannon, casting of, 164, 200. 

Canopy, in the Carmine, Florence, 
43. 118. 

Cantini, Legislazione Toscana, 38. 

Canvas ; as painting ground, 236 f.; 
mural painting on, 234 ; as used 
in Egypt, 236 ; at Rome, 236 ; at 
Venice, 236 f. ; by Mantegna, 
236 ; by Netherland painters, 

Carborundum, 2g. 

Careggi, 33. 

Carfagnana, or Garfagnana, a 
district of Italy, 43. 

Carpi, Ugo da, 281. 

Carrara, 42, iigi., 259. 



Carteggio, the, of Gaye, 16, 32, 266, 

308 i. 
Cartoons ; how made, 2 1 3 ; how used, 

215 f., 259, 28g ; for glass, 268. 
Castagno, Andrea dal, 229. 
Casting-pit, the, 163. 
Cellini, Benvenuto ; 7, 43, 116, 160, 

164, igg f. ; his Autobiography, 

116, 302 ; his Trattati, 7, 18, 41, 

57, III, 113, 168, igi, 275, 276, 

277, 278; on the use of full-sized 

models, ig4 ; his process of 

bronze-casting, 201. 
Cennini, Cennino, g, 10, 11, 88 ; his 

Trattato, 6, 8, 11, 136 I., 173, 224, 

237, 2go, 2g2, 2gj. 
Cesare Cesariano, 134 f. 
Chalk ; black, 213 ; red, 212 ;. tailors' 

white, 231 ; as ' whitening,' 242. 
Chambers, Sir William, 68. 
Charcoal ; for darkening mixtures, 

240; for drawing, 213, 231 ; for 

transferring, 215. 
Charles V, 108. 
Chartres, sculpture at, 183. 
Chasing ; 200, 273 ; tools for, 165. 
Chavenier (Chiavier), Jean, of 

Rouen, 130, 175. 
Chemical analysis of paintingmedia, 

Chiaroscuri ; decorative paintings, 

240 f, 2g8\ wood engravings, 20, 

281 f. 
Choir-stalls, 303. 
Christ ; by Donatello at Padua, 188; 

' At the pillar' by del Piombo,5j^ ; 

Head of, by Tadda, 33, 113, 113. 
Christa, Christus (the painter), see 

' Crista.' 
' Chunam,' 301. 
' Church Triumphant,' the, at Reims, 

Cicero, de Divinatione, 180. 
Cimabue, 223, 232. 
' CipoUaccio,' 36. 
CipoUino, 36, 45, 49. 
' Cire Perdue,' 202. 
Cista, Ficeronian, the, 273. 
Cividale, S. Maria in Valle, 301. 
Claude (worker in glass), 266. 
Clement; VII, 36, 46, 58, 89, log, 

110,116, 311 ; XI, 108; XII, 28; 

XIV, 108. 

' Cleopatra,' the, 116. 

Coats of Arms, see 'Stemmi.' 

Coins, technique of, 157, 168. 

' Colantonio del Fiore ' (apocryphal 
artist), 227. 

Colonna; Ascanio,32,zoi?; Vittoria, 

Colouring ; 218 f. ; Florentine, North 
Italian, 208 ; in three shades, 209 ; 
printing in, 281 ; of woods for 
tarsia, 262 ; of wax, 148, 188 {. 

Columns : see 'Orders of Archi- 
tecture ' : ^t Constantinople, 102 : 
at Florence ; Baptistry, 34 ; Mer- 
cato Vecchio, 59 ; S. Trinitk, 41, 
66, no : at Pisa, Baptistry,^/ : at 
Rome ; Aurelian, 183 f. ; Basilica 
of Constantine, 7g ; Pantheon, 41 ; 
St. Peter's, 39 ; Trajanic, 183 f : 
rustication of, 63. 

' Commesso, lavoro di,' 262. 

Composition, in a picture, its mean- 
ing, 209. 

Conche (antique bathing urns 
used for sepulchral purposes or 
fountains), 27, 38, 3g, 108 i. 

Conglomerate, see ' Breccia.' 

Coningsburgh Castle, 72. 

Constantine, 27, 102. 

Constantinople ; porphyry at, JOi ; 
S. Sophia, 102, 234. 

Correggio, 208, 217. 

Corsi, delte Pietre antiche, ^7, 41, 


Cortona, 136, 267. 

Corundum (emery), 2g. 

Cosimo, see ' Medici, dei.' 

Cosmati work, 304. 

Cranach, 282. 

Crista, Pietro, 228. 

Crowe and Cavalcaselle ; Early 
Flemish Painters, 227 ; History 
of Painting in North Italy, 226. 

Dalman, Dalmau, Ludovicus, 228. 
Damascening, 279. 
Damiano,Fra, of Bergamo, 263, jo(5. 
Dante ; 307 ; quoted, 238i. : referred 

Danti, Vincenzio, 123. 
Daremberg et Saglio, Dictionnaire 

des Antiquites, 273. 
Davanzati, on Donatello, 181. 



' David,' the, by Michelangelo, 44, 

45, 194- 

De I'Orrae, i^g. 

De Mayerne MS., sgy. 

Design ; how it should be studied, 
210 ; as basis of the decorative 
arts, 284. 

Dienecker, 282. 

Dierich, Dirick ; Bouts, 228 ; of 
Haarlem, 228. 

' Di segno,' Vasari's use of the term, 

Dissection, value of, 210. 

Djebel Duchan, porphyry quarries, 

Dome of St. Peter's, 81. 

Donatello : personal references, 12, 
igy, igg : his treatment of relief, 
18, 145, 156: his treatment of 
the proportions of the figure, 
181 i. : his works ; 'Abraham and 
Isaac,' 1S2, ' Beheading of John 
Baptist,' ig6, ' Cantoria,' 182, 
' Christ ' of S. Antonio, Padua, 
188, ' David,' t88, ' Dovizia,' J7, 
59, ' St. George,' 4s, ^95, ' Niccolo 
da Uzzano,' 188, ' Pietk,' zjd, 
' Zuccone,' 182. 

' Doryphorus,' the, at Naples, 146. 

' Dovizia,' by Donatello, J7, 59. 

Drapery, its treatment in sculpture, 
144, 150,775. 

Drawing ; its use in the various arts, 
206 f. ; materials of, 212. 

Drawings, Florentine and Venetian, 


Drills, 49. 

Duccio of Siena, 258. 

Diirer, Albrecht ; / ; as tempera 

painter, 2g2. 
Dussieux, Artistes Franqais a 

PEtranger, ijo. 

Egg, as a tempera, 222, 22J, 224, 

234, 249, 293. 
Egg-shell mosaic, 93, ij6 f. 
Egypt, as source of supply for 

stones, 26, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 

lOI, II J. 

Egyptians ; their bronze-casting, 
163 ; their painting methods, 224; 
their silver work, 273 ; their use 
of wooden stamps for bricks, ^75. 

Elba, granite from, 40, lii. 
'Electron' metal, 164. 
Elsa, river of Tuscany, 88. 
Emery; 27 f.; point for cutting glass, 

269 ; veins (smerigli), 47. 
Enamels ; different kinds of, 3l2i.; 

vitreous pastes for, 311 ; effect of 

tin in, 277, 311; Cellini on, 2y6i.\ 

Labarte on, 313 ; Theophilus on, 

276, 312 ; over reliefs, 276 f. ; over 

different metals, 277; firing of, 278; 

fluxes for, 277; polishing of, 278 ; 

ruby colourin,^77 ; Venetian, 278. 
Encaustic painting, igo, 292. 
EncyclopMie, the French, 18, '1^2, 

15S, igi. 
Engraving, on metal, 273 f ; on 

wood, 281 f. 
Etruscan ; incised designs, 273 : 

reliefs, 197 ; see also ' Orders 

of Architecture, Tuscan ' and 

'Tuscan style.' 
Eugenius IV, 28. 
Eustatius, 181. 

Evonimus Europaeus, see ' Silio.' 
Exhibitions ; at Burlington House, 

227., 293 ; at the Salon, 293 ; 

International, of 1851, 21 ; of 

1862, 41, S5i 60, 119; 'Toison 

d'Or,' at Bruges, 227. 
Eyck, van ; 10, ig, 2g4 f. ; Hubert, 

226 ; Jan, 226 f., 230, bath room 

pictures by, 227. 
Ezechiel, his visionary temple, I3g. 

Facio, De Viris Jllustribus, 227, 

Falda, G. F., Vedute delle Fabbriche, 

Farnese Collection of Antiques, 28, 

Federico of Urbino, 227. 
Ferrara ; as an artistic centre, 227; 

Palazzo dei Diamanti, 132. 
Fichard, Frankfurtisches Archiv, 

Ficorini, Francesco dei, Le Vestigia, 

etc., 108. 
Fiesole ; 37, 58, 60, 132 ; S. Giro- 

lamo, tomb in, iii. 
Fig tree, milk of, as a tempera, 224. 
Filarete, Trattato, 13^, i3g {., 146, 




'Filiera' (wire-drawing plate), 280. 
Fineschi, on S. Maria Novella, jo. 
Finiguerra, Maso, 274, 275. 
Fireplaces, mediaeval, 75. 
Firing ; of enamels, 278 ; of glass, 
271 ; ai cire perdue vaov!A%, \(i2i. 
' Flashing,' in glass staining, 2yo. 
Flemings, as glass workers, 267, 

Flemish; correspondents of Vasari, 

I ; painting, 226 f., 236. 
Florence.: Baptistry; 34,25^,274; 
gatesof^?^,i55,7.?j,/p(5: Bargello, 
see ' Museum, National' : Boboli 
Gardens, ^p, 38, 3g, 41, go, 107 : 
Borgo degli Albizzi, 2p8: Cam- 
panile ; materials of, 118, 128 ; 
relief on, 207 ; statues on, 182, 
iSf : ' Centro,' the, 60 : 

Churches ; Annunziata, 18, 
i75j 253; Carmine, 42, 118; 
Cathedral, see'Duomo'; Duomo, 
43, 61,7/5, 118, 128, 233,306,308; 
S. Giovanni, see ' Baptistry ' ; 
S. Lorenzo, 58, 112, 122, 156, 
(CappelladeiPrincipi,59, Fagade, 
46, 124, Library, 58, 80, 81, 261, 
310, Sacristy, 58, 80, no, 194, 
303) ; S. Maria del Fiore, see 
' Duomo'; S. Maria Novella, 30 ; 
S. Maria Nuova, 228, 229 ; Or 
" San Michele, 60, 61 ; S. Miniato 
a Monte, 28, 43, 118 ; S. Spirito, 

Citadel, fortress, see 'Fortezza' : 
Fortezza ; Belvedere, 66 ; da 
Basso, 61, 66, 133: Fountains, 
32, 38, 46, 88, go, 113 : Loggia 
dei Lanzi, 61 : Manufactory of 
Mosaics, log, 118 : Mercato ; 
Nuovo,59; Vecchio,59: Museum; 
of S. Marco, 60 ; National, 113, 
136, 2^4 1 Opera del Duomo, 
136, 182, 307 : 

Palazzo ; Alessandri, 132 ; 
Medici, 68, 133 ; Montalvo, 
2g8; Pitti, 42, 60, 61, 66, 68, 
log, 1/4, 133; Riccardi, 133; 
Strozzi, 61, 68 ; Vecchio (dei 
Signori, Ducal, Duke Cosimo's, 
etc.), i, 15, ig, 33^ 45. 61, 113, 
■y^. 233, 306, 307 : 

Piazza ; S. Trinitk, 66, no ; 

Vittorio Emanuele, sg : Ponte 
S. Trinitk, 46, i3g : Strada dei 
Magistrati, see ' Uffizi ' : UfKzi, 
S, sg, 70 f., 106, 112, 113, 136 : 
Via dei Magistrati, see ' Uffizi.' 

Flour ; baked, mixed with clay to 
keep it moist, 150; in paste for 
priming canvas, 236 ; for muci- 
lage, 213. 

Fluxes, for enamels, 277. 

Foggini, Giov. Batt., 60. 

Fontainebleau, stucco work at, 171, 
1S3, 302. 

Foreshortening ; in painting, iiisi.; 
in sculpture, 145. 

Fornarina, Raphael's, her reputed 
house, 103. 

Fountains, 32, 36, 38, 40, 46, 87 f., 
no, 113, 116. 

Frangois I of France, 130, 171. 

' Frassinella ' (sharpening stone), 

Frederick II, Emperor, 1/2. 

French School at Rome, 33. 

French, the, as glass workers, 267. 

Fresco painting, see ' Painting, 

Gaddi ; Agnolo, 10, 137 ; Gaddo, 

136 ; Taddeo, 10. 
Galluzzi, History of the Grand 

Dukes, 13, 112. 
' Ganymede,' the Florentine, 106. 
Garfagnana or Carfagnaha ; a dis- 
trict of Italy, 43. 
Gamier, M., on Michelangelo, 81. 
Gaye, Carteggio, 16, 32, 266, 308 f. 
Gazette des Beaux Arts, referred to, 

Genoa ; Doria Palace, 247 ; its 

flagstones or slates, 55, 238. 
German carving in hard materials, 

' German work,' 63, 83, 133 f. 
Germans, the, in connection with 

engraving, 273, 282. 
Gesso ; as painting ground, 223 {., 

230, 236, 24g, 2g3 ; reliefs in, 224. 
Ghiberti, 18, 183, igg. 
Gian, Maestro, 52, I28i., 173. 
Giornale d' Italia, 130. 
Giotto, 10, 225, 2go, 304. 
Giovanni, Fra, of Verona, 262, 303. 



Girardon, his statue of Louis XIV, 

/<?, IS8. 
Giulio, a silver coin, 276. 
Giusto, S., near Florence, 37. 
Glass ; ' crown,' 26^ ; stained, 265 f., 

308 f. ; Venetian, 268 ; see also 

' Mosaic' 
Glue ; from cheese, 173 ; from 

parchment shreds, 173 ; see also 

' Size.' 
Gori, Thesaurus Vet. Diptychorum, 

Gossets, the, workers in wax, i8g. 
Gothic Art, 7(5, //, 60, 83, 133 {., 

Goths, the, 60, 63, 83, 134. 
Gotti, Aurelio ; on the length of 

the 'braccio,' viii ; Le Gallerie 

. . . di Firenze, 113. 
Gozbert of Tegernsee, 310. 
'Gradina' (toothed chisel), 48, 152. 
Granite, 39 f 
Granito ; del foro, 41 ; di Prato, 

Greece, as source of supply for 

stones, 35, 36, 38, 42, 43. 
Greek ; bronzes, 164 ; incised de- 
signs, 2^3 ; reliefs, lyg, ig6 i. ; 

statues, 146 ; technique of marble 

sculpture, ig2 ; technique of 

bronze casting, 202 ; tempera 

paintings, see ' Byzantine ' ; w^ood 

inlays, 304. 
Gregorovius, Geschichte der Stadt 

Rom., 102, {. 
Gregory XII, 22^. 
' Grisatoio ' (a tool), 269. 
Grotesques ; 244 f , 2gg i. ; meaning 

of term, 302. 
Grottoes, 87, 302. 
' Grozing-iron ' (a tool), 269. 
Guasti, edition of Michelangelo's 

poems, 180. 
Guglielmo da Marcilla, 266, 268, 

Guicciardini, on early Flemish 

painters, 226. 
Gum, as a tempera, 222, 223, itfi, 

267, 283. 

Haematite, 269. 

Hair, the, its treatment in sculp- 
ture, 144. 

Hampton Court, 236. 

Hare, Days near Rome, 88. 

' Heads,' as measures of columns, 

Heemskerck, drawing of Michel- 
angelo's fountain, iz6. 

Helena, mother of Constantine, 2y. 

Hermeneia (Mount Athos Hand- 
book), 2gs. 

' Hermes,' the, of Praxiteles, 44. 

Herrmann, Steinbruchindusirie, 4g. 

Hildesheim ; bronze doors at, 164 ; 
St. Michael's, jo^. 

' Historic Ornament,' 22. 

Honey, as a tempera, 223, 250. 

Hugo of Antwerp (van der Goes), 

Humanism, 7/, 2^, 138 i. 

Ideal Architecture, 18, 96, 138. 

Ilg, Dr. Albert, 6, g2. 

Impruneta, Hill of the, 37, i2y. 

Industrial Arts, the ; ^7 ; in Britain, 
22 \ in France, 21 ; in Italy, 

Inlays : breccia, 38 : marble, 92 f , 
258 f. : metal ; damascening, 
279 f ; niello, 273 f : rustic, for 
fountains and grottoes, 87 i. : of 
coloured stones for pavements, 
etc., 57, 91 : wood, 262f., jqjf 

Intaglios, technique of, 168 i. 

Intarsia, 2yg ; see also 'Tarsia.' 

Iron ; armatures, ties, etc., 25, 74, 
161 f , 271 ; see also 'Armatures'; 
damascening in, 279 f. ; scale or 
scum of, 234, 269. 

Istrian Stone, 56. 

Jahrbuch d. k. deutschen Archeo- 
logischen Iristituts, 104, loj, 107, 

Janni, Maestro, 128, 174. 
Jervis, / Tesori Sotterranei deW 

Italia, 41, iig f. 
Joggled lintels, 'j2. 
John of Bruges, see 'Eyck, van, Jan.' 
' Jonah,' by Michelangelo, 216. 
Julius ; II, 108, 260, 266, 267, 276, 

308; III, 32,70.?. 

'Justice,' statue by Francesco del 

Tadda, 770. 
Justus of Ghent, 229. 



Labarte, Histbire des Arts Indus- 

triels, 2j8, 2'/6, jij. 
' Lacedaemonium viride,' jj. 
' Laocoon,' the, 116. 
' Last Supper ' ; Leonardo's, ^yj ; 

in Flemish glass, jii. 
Lavagna, slates of, 55. 
Laws, against use of particular 

materials, etc., 58. 
Leads, for glass windows, 271. 
Leo ; III, 310 ; X, 75, 44, 46, 106, 

122, 260. 
Leonardo da Vinci, I2, 14, ij, ijg, 

230, ^33- 
Leopardi, Alessandro, /Qg. 
Liber Pontificalis, jio. 
Libergier, Hughes, of Reims, 207. 
Light and shade, treatment of, 

Lime ; from marble chips, 86 ; from 

travertine, 86, 221; its behaviour 

in connection with fresco, 288. 
Lime-white, see ' Bianco Sangio- 

Lime wood, for carving, 173. 
Linen cloth, over panels, 224. 
Linlithgow Palace, '72. 
Lippmann, The Art of Wood 

Engraving, 281. 
Lomazzo, 231. 

Lorenzetto, the sculptor, loy. 
Lotto, 208. 
Louis : XIV, age of, 21 ; statue of, 

iS8: XV, style of, 8g. 
Louvre, the, 44, loy, 116, ig4, 201. 
' Luano, Ludovico da ' (apocryphal 

painter), 228. 
Liibeck, ^08. 
Luini, 2go. 
Luni, iig. 
Lysistratus, 188. 

Maccari, Graffiti e Chiaroscuri, 2g8. 

' Macigno,' 57. 

Majano ; Benedetto da, 262, jo6 ; 

Giuliano da, jo6. 
Manganese, its use in fluxes, 277. 
' Manner,' its meaning in sculpture, 

Mantegna, 2j6 ; as tempera 

painter, 2g3. 
Manufactory of Mosaics, Tuscan, 

log, 118. 

Manufacture des Meubles de la 

Couronne, 21. 
Marangoni, Delle Cose Gentilesche, 


Marble ; coloured, /jj ; Italian, ch. 
I passim, 117 1., 152, 259; for 
mosaic, 91 f., 258 ; Parian, Pen- 
telic, 44 ; polish of, 49, 152, zjj ; 
transparent, 43, 265. 

Marcilla, Guglielmo da, 266, 267, 
268, jii. 

Marenima, the Tuscan, its quarries, 

Mariotti, Legislazione delle Belle 
Arti, jg, 61. 

Marqueterie, 264. 

Martin, painters named, 22g. 

' Mary of the Visitation,' keims, 184. 

Massa, its quarries, 126. 

Massi, Museo Pio-Clewientino, 27, 

Medals, technique of, 167 f. 

Mediaeval ; sculpture, 144 ; decora- 
tive art, 284 ; see also ' Gothic' 

Medici ; arms of the, 61, 67 ; por- 
phyry portraits of the, 33, 113 f. ; 
tombs of the, ig4. 

Medici, dei : Alessandro, 66 : 
Cosimo {Pater Patriae), 33, 
113 f. : 

Cosimo I, Duke ; personal 
references, 14, ij, 32, 33, 47, 70, 
no, 112, 228 ; portrait in por- 
phyry, 33, 113 ; connection with 
the marble quarries, 120, 124, 
261 ; his interest in Pisa, 50, 
126 \ works connected with his 
name at Florence, (Palazzo 
Vecchio), 32, 33, 37 ; (Pitti), 38, 
41 ; (Ufifizi), 59, 70 ; (elsewhere), 
59, 88 : 

Ferdinando, los : Francesco, 
jj, 123: Giovanni, 77^ : Giuliano, 
7j: Giulio (Clement VII), 75: 
Ippolito, 103 : Leonora, Duchess, 
33 : Lorenzo ; the Magnificent, 
227 ; Duca d' Urbino, 75 : Piero, 


Mdlanges Nicole, ig4. 
Melozzo da Forli, 217. 
Memling, Hans, 227. 
' Meridiana,' in the Pitti, 77^. 
Merrifield, Mrs, 3, 6. 



Michelagnolo, Michelangelo, see 

' Buonarroti.' 
Michelozzo, igg. 
Milan; S. Ambrogio, j05; Cathedral, 


Millar, Plastering, 150. 

Mischiato, Mischio, see ' Breccia.' 

Mitteilungen d. k. deutschen Archeo- 
logischen Insiituts, yS. 

Modelling in clay, 149 f., ig8. 

Models : for sculpture ; full- sized, 
150 f., 158, igo, igsi., ig4, 202; 
small, 148, ig4 : for wood carving, 
173 : of wood for architecture, 
207: for studying shadows, 214, 

Monochromes, see ' Chiaroscuri.' 

Monsummano, quarries of, 128. 

Monte, monti ; Albano, 128 ; Altis- 
simo, z.s'of ; Ceceri,j7; Ferrato, 
I2y ; S. Giuliano, 50, 126 \ 
Martiri, J7 ; Morello, 88 ; Pisani, 
50, 126 ; Rantoli, 37 ; Ripaldi, 
60 ; Sagro, 120 ; Spertoli, 242. 

Monumenti del Istituto, 76. 

Morris, William, j, 22. 

Morto da Feltro, J02. 

Mosaic ; antique, 91 f., gj, 2'57, 263 ; 
derivation of word, gi ; Early 
Christian, 27, 2J2 f. ; egg shell, 
93, ij6 ; Tuscan manufactory of, 
iog,ii8\ glass, 93, 251 ; marble, 
37,92 f., 258 f. ; pictorial, for walls, 
93, 25 1 f ; rustic, for fountains 
and grottoes, 89, 90 ; technique 
of, 253 i. ; for variegated pave- 
ments (Cosmati work), 91, 304 ; 
vitreous pastes for, _j// f. ; of 
window glass, 266, ^og ; wood, 
262 f., 303 f. 

Mosque ; lamps from, 268; windows 
in, 3og. 

Mother of Pearl, pj. 

Mothes, Baukunst . . . in Italien, 

Moulds, plaster, from the life, 

Mucilage, see ' Glue.' 
' Muffle' furnace, 271, 277. 
Miintz, Eugene ; Les Artsd. la Cour 

des Popes, J30 ; on Byzantine 

mosaics, 136. 
Mural decoration : decorative pro- 

cesses, ig, 240 f , 28J f : fresco, 
10, 213 f, 221 f, 287 {.: mosaic, 
93, 251 f. : oil, 232 f, 236, 237, 
2g4i. ; on stone, 239 : stucco, 53, 
170 f , 244 f., 2gg i. : sgraffito, 243, 
2g8{. : tempera, 224, ^p/f. 

Naples ; Museum, antiques at, 43, 
104 ; pictures at, 22y : S. Barbara, 
226 : S. Giacomo, tomb in, 47 : 
Vasari's paintings at, 233. 

Nature, study of, at the Renaissance, 
12, 14. 

Net, the, for enlarging, 214. 

Niello, 273 f. 

Nikd, from Samothrace, loj. 

' Nile,' Statue of the, 36, 44, 116. 

Nola, Giovanni da, 47. 

' Nonsuch,' Palace of, stuccoes at, 

Nose, the, in Greek and Florentine 
sculpture, 4^. 

' Nymph of Fontainebleau,' Cellini's, 

Octavianus, Cardinal, 227. 

Oil ; linseed, 230, 234 ; walnut, 
230, 236. 

Oil colour, for printing from wood 
blocks, 283. 

Oil painting, 225, 226 f.; its first 
discovery, 226 ; its artistic ad- 
vantages, 230 ; on stone, 55, 239. 

Olmo, by Castello, 88. 

Orders of Architecture ; 63 ; Com- 
posite, 80 f. ; Corinthian, 79 f. ; 
Doric, 68 f. ; Ionic, 78 i. ; Italic, 
82 ; Latin, 82 ; Rustic, 65 i. ; 
Tuscan, 65 f., 132. 

Oseri, Osoh, the river, 50, 126. 

Pacheco ; 7 ; on tempera, 2g2. 

Painting : definition of, 208 : com- 
parison of with sculpture, 779: 
history of, 225, 226 f , 287, 2^0, 
2g2, 2g4 f. : Florentine and Italian 
compared with modern, 208 : 
Greek, 23g : 

painting grounds ; canvas, 236 
f. ; glass, 267 f., 308 f. ; ivory, 
igo ; panels, 223 f., 230, 237 ; 
plaster, 221 f , 223, 287 ff. ; 
stone, 55, 239 : materials, 225, 



and ' Introduction ' to Painting, 

passim • pigments, 22 1, 224, 242 : 
processes ; encaustic, /po, 3p3 ; 

fresco, 4, 10, ig, 221 f., 28y f. ; 

oil, 70, ig, 226 ff., 3g4 f. ; tempera, 

ig, 223 f,, 240 f., 2gi {. 
Palazzo ; dei Diamanti, Ferrara, ij2 ; 

see also ' Florence,' ' Rome,' etc. 
Palermo, Cathedral, i/i. 
Palissy, ijg. 
Palladio, 66. 

Palmo, as measure of length, viii. 
Palomino, 7. 
Panels ; as painting grounds, 223 f., 

230, 237; disadvantages of, 2j^, 

239 ; woods used for, 3j^. 
Paragon (touchstone), 42 f., 104, 

117 {. 
Parione, see ' Rome.' 
Paris ; as an art centre, 21 ; Sainte 

Chapelle, J77. 
Parthenon, sculpture of, iSj, igg. 
Pasiteles, ig4. 
Pastes ; coloured for rustic work, 

89 ; for first priming of canvas, 

Pastorino of Siena, iSg. 

Patina, artificial ; for bronze, 166 ; 

for silver, s^j. 
Paul ; II, 40; III, 40, 108, 260 ; V, 

Pavements ; breccia, 261 ; mosaic, 

90 f , 258 ; tiled, 90, 260. 
Paxes, 274 f. 

Pear-tree wood, for wood-cuts, 281. 
Pedestals, to columns ; 65, 75, 78, 

79, 82 ; architectural use of them, 

Pentelicus, Mount, quarries at, 44, 

„ ^94; 

Peperigno, Peperino, 57, 55, 238. 

'Per forza di levare,' 'per via di 

porre ' (methods of sculpture), 

irg f., 797 f. 
Pergamon, smaller frieze from altar 

base, igy. 
Perino del Vaga, 14, jj. 
' Perseus,' by Cellini, 164, 201 f. 
Perspective, its study, 12, 264. 
Perspectives, 214, 264,30^. 
Perugino, Pietro, 230. 
Peruzzi, y8. 
Petersburg, St., jo^. 

Petrarch, figure of in tarsia, jo/. 

Pheidias, 11, j8t, 186. 

V\h di Lupo (Lugo), 87 f. 

Piece-mould, 158 f , 202. 

Pier Maria da Pescia, 77^". 

Pietk ; by Donatello, 156 ; by 

Michelangelo, 1^3. 
Pietra forte, 57, 60 f. 
Pietra del fossato (fossataccio), 58. 
Pietra morta, j/. 
Pietra serena, 57 f. 
Pietrasanta, 46, 50, 120 {., 261. 
Pigments ; 221, 224, 230, 242 ; for 

glass painting, 269, jio. 
Pinturicchio, joj. 
Piombino, 127. 
Piperno, see ' Peperigno.' 
Pisa : Duke Cosimo's care for, 50 f , 

126 : Baptistry, 4/ : Campo- 

santo, 50 : Duomo ; 50, 252 ; 

' Cimabue ' at, 2J2. 
Pisan mountains, jo, 126. 
Pisano, Nicola, 797. 
Pistolesi, // Vaticano Descriito, jj, 

Pius ; IV, 770 ; VI, 2'/, 108, log. 
Plaster work, see ' Stucco.' 
Plato, Sophist, 181. 
Pliny, Historia Naturalis, 34, jj, 

44, J^. QJ^, 93, loi, ir?-, s^S-, 236, 

237, 273, 291- 
Podium, of Roman temples, 75, 7c?. 
Pointing machine, 7p7. 
Pola, arch at, 79. 
PoHshing ; breccias, 38 ; bronze, 

165 ; enamels, 278 ; marble 

mosaics, 260 ; marble, statuary, 

4Sj 47. 49. 152, 153 ■■, niellos, 274; 

pietra serena, 58 ; porphyry, 31, 

34 ; stucco, 777; ' touchstones,' 

42 f. 
Pollaiuolo, A., igg, 273. 
Polvaccio quan-y, 46, Z20. 
Pompeian ; style in ornament, 302 ; 

wall paintings, 22^. 
Pomponius Gauricus, igg. 
Popes, see the individual names, 

' Clement,' etc. 
Porphyry ; 26 ff., loi ff. ; green, at 

S. Nicola in Carcere, Rome, 28. 
Porta, Giacomo della, ji". 
Portinari, the, 227 f ' 

' Pot-metal,' 270, jii. 



Potters' ; clay, 240 ; ' soap,' 277. 
Pouncing, as method of transfer, 

Pozzuoli, Pozzuolo, 66, _joj. 
Prato, 42, 12'/. 
Praxiteles; 180; his 'Hermes,' 

Presses, decorated, jqj. 
Primaticcio, lyi, i8j. 
Priming, directions for, 230 ff. 
' Prisoners,' porphyry figures in 

Boboli Gardens, 29. 
Probert, History of Miniature Art, 

Proceedings of Huguenot Society, 

Proportions of the human figure, 

146, 180 f. 
Pulvinated frieze, 79. 
Pumice stone, for polishing ; bronze, 

165 ; marble, 49, 152 ; niellos, 

' Puntelli,' for measuring statues, 


Quellenschriften, the Vienna, 2, 6, 

Rabelais, his Abbey of Theleme, 

Raffaello da Urbino, see ' Raphael.' 
Ragionamenti, see ' Vasari, his 

Rags covered with clay, for drapery, 

150, 208. 
Raimondi, Marc Antonio, 2/4, sys- 
Raphael ; 14, 75, 134, 188, 220, 230, 
260 ; the Report on Roman 
Monuments, 134. 
Ravello, iii. 
Ravenna ; mosaics, 252 ; stuccoes 

in Baptistry, joz. 
Recipes : 6, 20: 

black ; filling for marble mono- 
chromes, 260 ; for niellos, 274 ; 
for transferring, 215 : 

bronzes and metal alloys, 163 : 
keeping clay soft, 1 50 : 
core for a bronze casting, 1 59 : 
' egg-shell ' mosaic, ij'y : 
enamels, fluxes for, ^77 : 
envelope for a bronze casting, 
161, 166 : 

gesso, 'grosso' and 'sottile,' 

gildmg, 248 f. : 

glass ; gilding, 254 ; painting 
on (burnt in), 269, 310, (unburnt), 
267 ; yellow stain for, 270, jii ; 

ink, drawing, 213 : 

preparing mosaic cubes, 2^4 : 

mucilages, 173, 213 : 

oil paint, mixing, 230, ^pjf. : 

patina, artificial ; for bronze, 
166 ; for silver, 273 : 

priming, 230 ff. : 

polishing, see ' Polishing ' : 

sgraffito, 243 f. : 

retouching media for fresco, 
222, 289 : 

stone, painting on, 238 : 

stucco ; for enriched vaults and 
'grotesques,' 86, 170; for setting 
glass mosaic, 255 f, 2^6; for 
setting mosaic pavements, 92 ; 
for preparing a wall for oil 
painting, 232 f. ; retarding its 
setting, Jjo : 

temperas, for painting, 224, 
2gj f. ; for decorative painting, 
etc., 240 f. : 

tempering baths for steel, 30, 
32, 112 : 

tiles, variegated, 260 : 

' verdaccio,' 242 : 

vitreous pastes, coloured, j/i : 

preparing walls for oil painting, 
232 f. : 

wax ; for bronze-casting, 160 ; 
for coloured effigies, iSg ; for 
modelling, 148 : 

white, lime, (bianco Sangio- 
vanni) 221 : 

colouring woods for tarsia 
work, 262 f. 
Reliefs ; origin of, 1 54 ; influence 
of painting and perspective on, 
rgdf. ; terminology of, iS4 ; 

antique, 1 54, ig6 ; flat (stiac- 
ciati), i56f. ; low (bassi), 156; 
pictorial or perspective, 154 f., 
196 {. ; 

in cast bronze, /p/f- ; in baked 
clay, 197 f. ; in marble, J^g/f- ; in 
metal repoussd, 198 ; 

Andrea Pisano's, 799 ; Dona- 



tello's, 1 56, ig6 ; Etruscan, zp/ ; 
Ghiberti's, ig6 ; Greek, igj I. ; 
Hellenistic, ipy, jot ; mediaeval, 
ig6, igg : Roman, igj. 

St. Rdmy, tomb of Julii at, ig'/. 

Renaissance ; the, 7, 11, si ; the 
man of the, 138 ; marbles, tjj ; 
the ' proto-,' igy. 

Repetti, Dizioiiario, 118, iig f. 

Repousse process, lyg, ig8. 

Restoration of antiques, 106, 107, 

Retouching, on frescoes, 222, 28g. 

Ring, the, at Vienna, j6. 

Robbia, della ; the, 114, 260 ; 
Luca, 182. 

Robinson, G. T., _j, 150. 

Rocaille, Rococo, style, 18, 87, 8g. 

Rocco, S., statue of, /<?, 1 74. 

Roger, 'of Bruges,' 'of Brussels,' 
' van der Weyden,' 227, 236. 

Romans, the ; their bronzes, 164 ; 
their reliefs, igj ; their use of 
rustication, 132 ; their wooden 
stamps for bricks, ^75. 

Rome : Arch ; of Septimius Severus, 
yd ; of Titus, 82, 184, igy ; Arco 
dei Pantani, /J2 : S. Angelo, 
Castle of, 260 : Basilica ; Aemilia, 
76 ; of Constantine, 79 : Bocca 
della Veritk,7(5 : Campo ; di Fiore, 
78, 2gg ; Vaccino, 76 : Capitol, 
81 : Career Mamertinus, 76 : 

Churches ; S. Bernardo, ijo ; 
Ss. Cosma e Damiano, 52 ; S. 
Costanza, ^7, 2^2 ; S. Giovanni 
in Laterano, 27 ; S. Luigi dei 
Francesi, 41, 52, j^, 775; S. 
Marco, 39 ; S. Maria, (in Araceli) 
76, (Maggiore) 79, (del Popolo) 
267, (Sopra Minerva) 44 ; S. 
Nicola in Carcere, 28, 7<?; S. 
Pietro in Montorio, 2J4 ; S. Pietro 
in Vaticano, (the Constantinian 
basihca) 39,263,^70, (the present 
church) 28, jg, 54, 81, 86, 217; 
S. Pietro in Vincola, 39, 40 ; 
S. Salvadore del Lauro, 39 ; S. 
Stefano, 40; S. Tommaso in 
Parione, loj : 

Colosseum, 51, 5J, 74, 82 : 
Column ; of Marcus Aurelius, 
18 J f. ; of Trajan, i8j f. : Corso 

Vittorio Emanuele, loj, los : 
Forum ; of Augustus, ij2 ; 
Boarium, 76 ; Olitorium, yS ; 
Romanum, 4g, yd ; Trajanic, 41, 
i8j : Monte Cavallo, Colossi of, 
44 : Museum, Terme, joi : 

Palazzo ; dei Conservatori, 8/ ; 
Farnese, 28, 53, 78, 81, 104, 131 ; 
la Valle, 28 ; Madama, 32, iji ; 
Massimi,.?^!?; Ricci,^^!?; Spada, 
2gg : Pantheon, 28, 41, 79, 80 : 
Parione, 42, 93, 102 : 

Piazza ; Carapo di Fiore, 78, 
2gg ; Farnese, 40 ; S. Luigi dei 
Francesi, I28i. ; di S. Marco, ^o ; 
dei Massimi, 2g8 ; Navona, 5.?, 
102 ; della Rotonda, 27, 28: Plan" 
of Rome, /qy : 

Ritonda, Rotonda, see ' Pan- 
theon ' : Temple ; of Bacchus, 27, 
93 ; of Peace, 79 : Templum 
Sacrae Urbis, J2 : Theatre ; of 
Marcellus, 76, 79 ; of Pompeius, 
102 : Thermae ; of Agrippa, 106 ; 
of Caracalla, i/o ; of Constan- 
tine, 44 ; of Diocletian, ijo ; of 
Nero, 41, ijo ; of Titus, 108, J02 : 
Tombs on Via Latina,507: Torre 
Pignattara, 27 : ' Treasury,' the, 
52 : Tullianum, 76 : 

Vatican ; Appartamento Bor- 
gia, S3j ^60, 303 ; Belvedere, 
Cortile di, 36, 44, 108, 113 f ; 
Braccio Nuovo, 116 ; Chapel of 
Nicholas V, 234 ; coloured 
windows, 266 ; Museo Pio- 
Clementino, 108; Museum of 
Sculpture, 115 ; Sala di Costan- 
tino, 233 ; Sala a Croce Greca, 
27, 116; Sala Regia, 33, 267; 
Sala Rotonda, 32, 108 \ Sistine 
Chapel, S3, 2i6 : 

Via ; de' Banchi Vecchi, 2gg ; 
del Governo Vecchio, 103 ; 
Latina, 301 ; Maschera d' Oro, 
2g8, 2gg ; Parione, 103 ; Pelle- 
grino, 2g8 : Villa ; Farnesina, 
171, 301 ; Madama, 8g ; Medici, 
40, 103, J07, log; Papa Giulio, 
108 : Wall of Servius Tullius, 33. 
Royal Institute of British Architects, 
Transactions of, 3g, 33, 38, loi, 
102, 263. 



Ruby red, in glass, 270. 
Ruccellai, the family, _jo. 
Runkelstein, Schloss, 22^. 
Rustication, rustic work, 52,5(5, (55, 

67, 87, T32. 
Rye-dough, mixed with plaster to 

retard its setting, 150. 

Salamander, carved, at S. Luigi, 
Rome, 130 i. 

'Sahgni' marbles, 45, 50. 

Salting collection, i8g. 

Salviati, Francesco, 311. 

San Gallo ; Antonio da, 53, 76 ; 
Giuliano da, 76. 

Sansovino, Jacopo, 56. 

Sarcophagi, Sarcophagus ; of Ha- 
drian, 28 ; the Marsuppini, 16 ; of 
the Medici, 77^; of Nectanebes I, 
38 ; at Palermo, /// ; Roman, 
igT, of L. C. Scipio Barbatus,jj'; 
of Piero Soderini, 42, 118 ; in 
Sala a Cioce Greca, Vatican, 27, 

Sassi, the family, 102 i. 

Sasso, Egidio e Fabio, 28, 93, 102 i. 

Scaling, of glass, 270. 

Schedula Diversarum Artium, see 
' Theophilus.' 

Schools of Art, 22, igg. 

Science and Art Department, 22. 

Scopas, his sculpture at Tegea, 184. 

Sculpture : its nature and condi- 
tions, 143 f., iyg-188: compared 
with painting, lyg : processes of, 
148-153,790-/95: use of drawing 
in, 207 : imitated in painting, 
240 f. : relief sculpture, see 

in bronze; beaten, 779, 198; cast, 
4, 7, 18, 158 f., iggi.; chased, 276, 
313 ; stamped, 167 f. : in free stone, 
52, 59, 61, 131, 2gg: in marble; 
43 f. ; technique of, 48, 1 5 1 f. : in 
porphyry and hard materials, 33, 
42, iioi., 117 {., 174; in wood, 

173 f- 
Seccatives, 230. 
Semper, Gottfried, 244, 303. 
Seravezza, 46, 50, 7^0 f. 
Serpentine, 35, 77j, 118, 127. 
SgrafRato, 243. 
Sgraffito, ig, 243 f., 2g8l. 

' Sicilian ' marble, 4g, 

Siena ; Duomo, pavement in, g4, 
258 ; Baptistry, Donatello's relief 
in, ig6. 

Silio, a white wood, 263. 

Silver ; as ground for enamels, 
276 f. ; for glass staining, ^70, 
J77 ; for niello work, 273 ; work, 
antique, 273. 

Sixtus IV, 53. 

Size ; meaning of the word, 248 ; 
in grounds for gilding, 248, 249 ; 
as priming, 224, 230, 237, 238 ; 
as a tempera, 222, 223, 12.^, 241, 
242, 28g, 2g4. 

Sketches, 212. 

Slate, 54, 238. 

' Slave,' the, of the Louvre, 795. 

' Smerigli ' (emery veins), 47. 

Soderini, Piero, his tomb, 42, 77^. 

Springer, Anton, 112. 

Stalactites, 87 f. 

Stamps, wooden, for bricks, 273. 

Stazzema, 123, 261. 

Steel, damascened, 279. 

Stemmi, 61, 2gg. 

' Stiacciato' rehef, 156, 182. 

Stockholm ; Museum at, 30 ; Par- 
liament buildings at, 72. 

Stone ; its hardening by exposure, 
26, 41 ; as painting ground, 55, 
238 ; and passim. 

Stucco; 777; antique, 5<?7; as fresco 
ground, 288 ; over travertine, 53 ; 
enriched vaults in, 85 ; (recipes) 
86; modelled and stamped enrich- 
ments and grotesques (recipes), 
170 f., 244 f, 2ggff.; for fixing 
panels of slate, 239 ; for preparing 
a wall for oil paint (recipes), 232, 
234; for piece-moulding, 158; 
for rustic grottoes, etc., 89 f. ; for 
setting marble mosaic pavements 
(recipe), 92 ; for setting glass 
mosaics, 255 ; for sgraffito work 
(recipe), 243. 

Stylus, use of the ; in niello work, 
273 ; for sharpening lines in 
tempera, 2g3 ; in sgraffito work, 
243 ; for transferring, 215, 231, 

'Subbia' (tool for stone-working), 
48, 152. 



Sulphur ; in amalgam for niellos, 
274 ; for casting niellos, 275. 

Symonds, J. A., his translation of 
Michelangelo, 180. 

Tadda, Francesco del, 32 f , 66, 

Targioni Tozzetti, Viaggi in 
Toscana, 126. 

Tarsia work, ig6, 262 f., _joj f 

Tausia work, 279. 

' Tedesco,' its meaning to the • 
Italians, 134. 

Tempera ; meanings of the term, 
22J ; advantages of tempera pro- 
cess, 224, 2gi {. ; its disadvan- 
tages, 2gj f. ; see also ' Painting, 

Terminal figures, 82. 

Terni, SS. 

' Terre da Campane,' 2jo. 

Teverone, the, 51, 79, 87. 

Text, Vasari's printed, possible 
mistakes in, viii, 79, SS, 228, 276, 

Theophilus, his Schedula, 6, S, 20, 
92, 173, 26S, 270, 271, 276, 2S0, 
284, 29J. 

Theophrastus, Ilepi KWav, 34^ 117. 

Theseum, sculpture of, 184. 

'Three block' wood engraving, 
281 f. 

' Tiber,' statue of the, 36, 44, 116. 

' Tigris,' statue of the, 36, 116. 

Tiles, glazed, 90, 260. 

' Times, The,' referred to, 2g. 

Tin ; effect of on enamels, 277,311 ; 
as ingredient in bronze, 164. 

Tintoretto, 214, 234. 

Tivoli, 51,66, 79. 87,J<y. 

Toledo, don Pietro di, 47. 

Tools ; for working bronze, 165 ; 
for glass cutting, 269 ; for 
granite, etc., 41 ; for marble, 48, 
152 ; for porphyry, 32 ; for wax, 

' Tppo,' a tool, 269. 

Torcello, mosaics at, 2jj. 

' Torso,' the, 116. 

Touchstone, see ' Paragon ' ; of 
Prato, 43. 

Trajan, sculpture connected with 
him, ig7. 

Transactions, R.I.B.A., see 'Royal 
Institute of British Architects.' 

Transparency in glass, 267, 308. 

Travertine; 51; carving in, 52 f, 
131, 2gg, 

Triangle, equilateral, in Gothic 
architecture, 13J. 

Tribolo, 42, 88, 260. 

Tripoli earth, for polishing, 1 53, 278. 

Tuscan style, j6, 87. 

Tzetzes, 181, 186. 

Udine, Giovanni da, 89. 
Urns, bathing or sepulchral, see 
' Conche.' 

Valle, della ; family, collection, 
palace, etc., 28, 104 f. ; Cardinal 
Andrea, 106 i. 

Varchi, Benedetto, I7g, ig7. 

Varnish, 232, 239, 249, 293, 2g4i., 


'Vasajo,' origin of Vasari family 
name, 136. 

Vasari, the family, 136. 

Vasari, Giorgio, the elder ('Vasajo'), 
136 i. 

Vasari, Giorgio : his character and 
gifts, 4, 13 f. : his life and art, 3, 
7i 33. 59. 106, 2gi : his visits, 36, 
103, 237 : his method of mural 
painting in oil, 233 f ; his writings ; 
Letters, 3, 6, iii ; Lives of the 
Artists, I, 2, 3, 7, and passim ; 
Ragionamenti, 3 ; Editions of, i, 
2,7; Translations of, 2i.; Text, 
printed, possible mistakes in, see 

Vaults ; brick, 86 ; stucco, 85, 170 ; 
in St. Peter's, 54. 

Vellino, river, 88. 

Venetians, the, 14, 212. 

Venice : colour printing, 281 : en- 
amels of, 278 : frescoes at, 234 : 
glass work at, 268 : mosaics at, 
232, 234, 268 : 

Ducal Palace, 236, 237 : 
Church of S. Marco, iii, 112 ; 
mosaics at, 232 : Library of S. 
Marco, 36, 237 : Palace of S. 
Marco, see ' Ducal Palace' : 
Panattiera, 56 : 
Piazza di S. Marco, 56 : 



Piazzetta, ^6 : 
Scuola di S. Rocco, 234. : 
Zecca (Mint), 56, (5y. 
Veniziano, Domenico, 229. 
' Venus' ; crouching, in Louvre, ig4 ; 
Medici, 103 ; of Milo, /pj ; and 
Cupid, IJ2. 
' Verdaccio,' 242. 
'Verde'; ' Antico,' j^ ; 'di Prato,' 

35, iiS, 127- 
Verdun, 266. 

Verhaecht, 227. * 

Verona ; marble, 39 ; S. Maria in 

Organo, 306. 
Verrocchio, igg ; his ' Boy with a 

Dolphin,' 33 ; his sarcophagus in 

S. Lorenzo, 112 ; his CoUeoni 

statue, 200. 
Versiglia, the, I2§. 
' Via dei Magistral!,' see 'Florence,' 

' Uffizi.' 
Victoria and Albert Museum, 136, 

/S6, i8g, 311, 313. 
Vignola, 81. 
Villa ; Careggi, 33, 228 ; Farnesina, 

301, 171 ; of Hadrian, 303 ; Ma- 

dama, 8g ; Medici, 40, los, 107, 

log ; Papa Giulio, 108 ; Poggio 

Imperiale, 114. 
Villani, Chronicle, 34,^5. 
Vitreous pastes, coloured, 277, 

311 f. 
Vitruvius, 25, 5/, 65, 66, 68, 75, 79, 

80, 13s, 146, 171-, 220, 22s, 287, 

Volterra, Daniele da, S3- 

' Volterrano ' (Volterra gypsum 
plaster), 24g. 

Walnut oil, see ' Oil, nut.' 

Walnut wood ; for carving, 174 ; as 
ground for inlays, 262. 

Wax ; its use by the modeller, 148, 
i88i. ; by the bronze founder, 
i6of. ; coloured, its preparation 
and use, 148 f., i88i. ; as setting 
for portable mosaics, 136. 

Westminster Abbey, waxen effigies 
at, 188. 

Wheel, the, for working hard stones, 
112, 167, 168. 

White ; of egg, 234, 249 ; for fresco 
(bianco Sangiovanni), 221 ; lead 
white (biacca), 221, 230, 236 ; for 
tempera, 224. 

Whitening, 241, 242, 2g4. 

Wilkinson, Sir Gardner, 102. 

Wilson, Charles Heath, Life of 
Michelangelo, 310. 

Winckelmann, 104. 

Wire-drawing plate, 280. 

Wolf, porphyry, 28, 107. 

Wood; carving, 173 f.; engraving, 
281 f. ; inlaying, see 'Tarsia.' 

Yellow stain for glass, 270, 311. 

' Zeus,' of Pheidias, i8z. 
Zinc, ingredient in bronze, 164. 
Zirkel, Petrographie, 4g. 
Zobi, Notizie . . . dei Lavori . . 
in Pietre Dure, log, 114 i.